Rockingham County deputies used this YouTube video to help identify Kyle Thomas Berry, 40, of Auburn as a local marijuana grower showing off his plants. Deputies said they matched Berry's reflection (left) with a driver's license photo and a booking photo from a November 2010 jail stint. (JAMES A. KIMBLE)
Police say YouTube videos led them to alleged pot grower
BRENTWOOD -- An Auburn man who allegedly decided to show off his marijuana-growing operation on YouTube attracted one viewer that took a keen interest in his budding hobby — the Rockingham County Sheriff's Drug Task Force.
Kyle Thomas Berry, 40, of 515 Bunker Hill Road was arraigned Wednesday morning in 10th Circuit Court in Auburn for having about 16 marijuana plants at his home. The street value of the plants was estimated at $16,000, deputies said.
Investigators built their case around the 35 YouTube videos in which Berry allegedly narrates the various stages of his grow operation from the basement of his Auburn home.
► Click here to view the videos.
"He was showing off some of his handiwork," Maj. Al Brackett said.
But the video's narrator wasn't just talking about grow cycles, preferred soils and the variety of plants sprouting up under heat lamps and fans.
One video entry titled "Merry Christmas" shows an outdoor campfire in which he wishes everyone happy holidays. Berry also allegedly mentions plans for a "potential summertime grow" on his 7 1/2-acre wooded lot.
In another video, Berry brags about how his U.K.-based seed supplier, Herbies Seeds, "packages things stealthily to avoid detection" by mislabeling the contents, according to Deputy Sgt. Jay Murphy.
"As you can see, it's very secretly stealth," Berry allegedly says on the Oct. 17 video. "They have it down as a video game. Awesome, right?"
But the video also shows the package has Berry's name on it, followed by the narrator opening it to reveal packages of marijuana seeds inside.
A confidential source first tipped off sheriff's detectives about Berry posting his videos under the username "beginnergrowerktb1."
"It appears that Berry is careful not to show his face, but does nothing to disguise his voice," Murphy said in a sworn affidavit about the videos.
Deputies began collecting information about Berry on Dec. 20, including his home address, a booking photo from a November 2010 jail stint and a driver's license photo.
And they kept watching more YouTube videos, Murphy said.
"In a video dated 10/26/12, you can see Berry's face reflecting off the wall as he explains the feeding schedule and chemicals he uses," Murphy said in the affidavit. "Using that video, I have identified Berry by comparing the license photo and jail booking photo I recently received."
Berry was charged Tuesday with illegal manufacture of a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute.
Deputies executed a search warrant at Berry's home finding the marijuana plants, a pound of loose marijuana and a variety of unknown chemicals that are being tested by the state, court records say.
Investigators with the state forensic laboratory and the Drug Enforcement Administration's Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team assisted with the search, Brackett said.
During an interview with investigators, Berry admitted to buying his grow equipment at a store in Manchester and ordering marijuana seeds from Herbies Seeds in the United Kingdom, Murphy said in the affidavit. Berry told investigators he had been growing marijuana for about eight months.
He is being held at the Rockingham County jail on $7,500 cash bail.