DTF busts major pot grower

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, November 5, 2009

There was nothing sophisticated about the exterior appearance of a shed on Willie Frank Road in which members of the Covington County Drug Task Force found what they called the “most sophisticated indoor grow” they’ve ever seen.

DTF agents charged Hugo Anthony Zachanni with trafficking in marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia after serving a search warrant at the residence Thursday afternoon. Zachanni, a 42-year-old white male, is being held in the Covington County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

DTF Commander Mark Odom said tips received by the River Falls Police Department led to an investigation into Zachanni’s activities. Agents obtained a search warrant Thursday afternoon and quickly had the man in custody.

Agents found the growing station inside a closet in a shed. The grower was using air conditioning, lights and a tank of carbon dioxide in the growing process, they said. Numerous plants estimated at four-and-a-half feet tall were growing in plastic flowerpots in the climate-controlled area.

“This was definitely a sophisticated grower,” Odom said.

Agents also found how-to books for growers in the shed.

Odom said the Drug Enforcement Agency generally estimates the value of marijuana at $2,000 per plant. However, he said, the content of these plants probably made them more valuable.

DTF prosecutor Grant Scott said agents were able to move from the River Falls tip to a search warrant and then to the grow house in a matter of a few hours.

“We’d like to thank Chief (Greg) Jackson and the River Falls Police Department for their assistance,” Scott said.

The Covington County Sheriff’s Department also assisted in the execution of the search warrant.