Back in June, officials at Mammoth Cave National Park set up a reward program for information leading to successful prosecutions of crimes within the park. In the press release, Ranger David Alexander, one of the park law enforcement officers. was quoted as saying that; "Drug activity is a major concern. Every year we find marijuana plots in the park. We need the community's help in tracking down the growers."
Well, he wasn't kidding:
Today's NPS Digest is reporting that on the morning of October 8th, rangers saw a vehicle leave the park that they believed to be associated with a marijuana cultivation operation. They followed it and noted that it had an inoperative brake light and that a strong odor of unprocessed marijuana was emanating from within. Rangers David Alexander, Jonathon Bledsoe, and Kelly Brownson stopped it at one of the park’s overlooks and found more than three pounds of fresh marijuana buds in a black trash bag, plus fertilizer, shears, coated wire, other cultivation devices, two cell phones and a GPS unit.
The two men inside – Robert Williams, 25, and Ryan Pitcock, 20, both of Bowling Green, Kentucky – waived their Miranda rights. During questioning, Pitcock admitted he had several cultivation sites inside the park and also admitted that he had been visiting those sites since the early spring. Williams admitted that he had been dropping Pitcock off in the park and picking him up for the past three weeks. He also admitted to transporting harvested marijuana back to their apartment in Bowling Green.
Based on these statements, the Kentucky State Police Special Investigations Division was able to obtain a search warrant for the apartment and visited it that same day. During the search, approximately two pounds of processed marijuana, 34 grams of processed mushrooms, two indoor mushroom growing operations, and two indoor marijuana growing operations with ten plants were confiscated. A large amount of drug paraphernalia and distribution evidence was also seized.
A field search conducted by rangers the next day yielded ten un-harvested marijuana plants and evidence of a total of 31 cultivated plants in five plots. Pitcock had nearly 50 waypoints on his GPS located within the park which have yet to be checked. The arrests brought to a culmination an investigation by rangers which began this past May. Both men are currently in jail and face numerous federal and state charges.