William Joseph “Jody” Gaddis, 47, of Ball Ground, was subsequently arrested, but authorities are still looking for a second person who they say is connected. Gaddis has been charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
He is currently being held in the Cherokee County Detention Center. Bond has been set for $250,000.
Local authorities said the marijuana plants were spotted from a helicopter by the Governor’s Task Force for Drug Suppression, a 27-year-old statewide program that searches for outdoor marijuana grows.
Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad Commander Phil Price said the patrol spotted the plants growing along a power line behind a residence on Sperin Road in northern Cherokee County.
“That is a common occurrence,” Price said. “The perception is if it is not on my land, it can’t be traced back to me. That is not true.”
Price said two people fled from the home while the helicopter was overhead.
“They are a dead give away,” he said. “They don’t use those helicopters like the ones used to kill Osama bin Laden.”
Authorities from Cherokee County and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were called to the scene.
Cherokee Sheriff’s Office K-9 officers canvassed the area while other officers searched the property, Price said.
Due to thick overgrowth in the area, officers could not trail the suspects, but he said Gaddis later returned to the scene and was taken into custody.
Gaddis was renting the property. The property owner has not been identified and Price said the owner had “no apparent connection to the case.”
According to a press release issued by the narcotic squad, agents found 172 growing marijuana plants and additional 30 harvested plants inside the residence.
“It was an apparent large-traffic operation,” Price said.
Officials said the total value of all the plants was $242,400.