Sampson County Sheriff's Office


Clandestine Marijuana Lab Busted in Harrells, NC

On August 20, 2007, officers with the Sampson County Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division conducted a search warrant at the residence of George Claven Melton, Jr., located at 11005 Harrells Highway, Harrells, North Carolina. The search warrant was being executed due to an investigation that stemmed from the discovery of marijuana plants on the property by a North Carolina National Guard helicopter that was assisting the Sheriff's Office with marijuana eradication. During the execution of the search warrant agents discovered a clandestine marijuana lab in a tractor-trailer behind Melton's residence and another marijuana lab in one of Melton's bedrooms. Officers seized over 160 marijuana plants valued at $425,000.00. The entire seizure to include final product, equipment, weapons, and growing supplies totaled approximately $600,000.00. Officers also made a very unusual discovery of three "in-tact" frozen rattlesnakes in a deep freezer in the residence.

George Claven Melton, Jr, age 44, of 11005 Harrells Highway, Harrells, NC, was charged with two counts of Manufacturing Marijuana, one count of Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver, one count of Maintaining a Dwelling of Storage of a Controlled Substance, one count of Maintaining a Vehicle for Storage of a Controlled Substance, three counts of Possession of an Endangered Species and one count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Mr. Melton was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center under a $551,000.00 bond set by Magistrate Kevin Ellis. The indoor facilities were part of an elaborate process to hide the marijuana growing operation. Sheriff Jimmy Thornton stated, "It's obvious that we have turned up the heat on drug dealers in Sampson County. They are being forced to find creative ways to conceal their illicit activity. As long as they continue to find ways to participate in illegal activity, we'll continue to find ways to bring them to justice. My officers started working this case in March of 2007 based on an anonymous tip and they have spent hundreds of man-hours conducting surveillance and performing follow-up investigative work to bring Mr. Melton to justice and I'm proud of them. "