Deputies confiscated nearly a ton of marijuana at a Raymond Township property Monday, with an estimated street value of $7.4 million.

Deputies find nearly a ton of marijuana, sophisticated operations

By Tracy Ouellette

Staff writer

After what officials are calling the biggest drug bust in the area’s history and possibly the state, a 44-year-old Raymond Township man remained in Racine County Jail as of Wednesday morning on a $1 million cash bond.

John Gay was arrested Monday after a tip from a confidential informant led police to his rural Raymond farm where they discovered about 1,850 pounds of marijuana on the property, along with $100,000 in cash and six guns, including one hand gun.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. “I’ve got staff with 30 years on the force and they’ve never seen anything like this. We had to bring in a county dump truck and my guys were stomping it down to get it all to fit.”

According to Schmaling, the tip that led them to the pot-growing operation came as a result of another investigation, which was a good thing because the operation was not easily identifiable.

“This was not your typical drug house,” said Schmaling. “We’re talking rural Raymond here. Pole barns and crops are not out of the ordinary and none of what was really going on was visible from the roadway. The plants, even though some were 10 feet high, couldn’t be seen from the road.”

“There weren’t any red flags,” he continued. “There was no in and out traffic like you might see at a drug house. This was unique.”

The scope of the bust has yet to be determined as the matter is still under investigation and police are still searching the property. In addition to the drugs, guns and cash, police have also confiscated alleged drug-processing equipment such as heat lamps and dehumidifiers. Schamling said more arrests are possible.

“This was a high-level manufacturer, producing a lot of marijuana for high-level distribution,” said Schmaling.

The scale of the operation and its location were of great concern to the Sheriff’s Department when planning the suspect’s arrest and execution of the search warrant Monday.

Raymond Elementary School is so close to the property where the drugs were found that police took extra precautions to ensure safety, said Schmaling.

“We used our Racine County SWAT team to make the entry and went to great lengths to make sure no one was in harm’s way,” he said. “We didn’t kick down doors with guns blazing while school was in session; we went in at 6:50 a.m. to make sure things went our way.”

Gay was scheduled to appear in Racine County Court Thursday.