Exeter teen accused of growing pot on public conservation land
EXETER - Most marijuana growers try to find a spot on their own property to hide their pot, but an Exeter teenager was charged Friday with growing a 5-foot plant on conservation land used by kids and other members of the public near the Exeter River.
Michael Tirico, 19, faces one felony count of manufacturing/cultivation of marijuana after he was arrested following an investigation that began last summer.
Police Capt. Stephan Poulin said the case is disturbing because of the spot allegedly picked for the pot. The 5-foot plant was found about 20 feet from a public trail on conservation land off of Linden Street, police said.
It's a place where people walk the trails, play and fish in the river.
Police believe the plant was likely a trial run and that Tirico may have been planning more plants on the land.
"We can speculate that if he's going to grow one and be successful, he's going to grow more," Poulin said.
But illegal marijuana growers usually don't grow their plants in public, he added.
"They usually do it in their own yard or a field in their yard. Children and the public would have access to them in this place, and then you bring in the criminal aspect of people maintaining the plants. That's what's disturbing," he said. "We've had grows on the edge of a person' property, but in a conservation area like this it's the only one I know of in my 10 years."
While the area where the plan was found was green with other vegetation, Poulin said that if someone is "aware of what the plant looks like, you could certainly see it."
Through covert surveillance, police identified Tirico as the main suspect in the case. Police continue to investigate other possible suspects and marijuana growing operations.
Tirico was released on personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear at the Brentwood Circuit Court on Dec. 2.