Authorities are searching for a second suspect who escaped when they busted the first tending to a marijuana farm in a Commack recharge basin during a night-time raid this week.
Mark Kern was arrested Wednesday and charged with felony marijuana possession, trespassing and resisting arrest following what investigators dubbed “Operation Green Thumb.”
Kevin McPadden, deputy chief of the Smithtown public safety department, said his officers have been loosely watching the pot farm with hidden cameras since May, when town highway workers discovered a group of small marijuana plants.
“Once the plants matured, we decided to go with a steady surveillance,” McPadden said. “They were planted in rows, kind of like in a terraced farm…something like you might see in Southeast Asia where it was different levels with wood borders going up a hillside in an isolated water basin.”
The 54-year-old King Park man and his alleged accomplice were allegedly walking through the woods with water, fertilizer and head lamps when officers announced the bust and the second suspect fled through a hole in the fence, McPadden said.
About 100 plants, some up to 10-feet tall, were uprooted and taken to Suffolk County police headquarters in Yaphank to be weighed. Drug Enforcement Administration agents also helped town officials with the investigation.
Kern pleaded not guilty. His bail was set at $5,000 cash or $15,000 bond. He is due back in court Oct. 2.
Smithtown public safety officials ask that anyone with information about the case contact them at 631-360-7553.