By SHAWN McGRATH



Indiana State Police troopers arrested a Summitville couple Tuesday who they say had nearly 850 marijuana plants growing inside a barn on their property.

Troopers arrested 49-year-old Marcus A. Combs and his wife, Denise A. Combs, 46, as suspects in a marijuana growing operation inside a barn in the 17800 block of North 500 East, where the couple was residing.

According to a news release from ISP, troopers, along with an agent with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, served a search warrant at about 12:30 p.m. on the property about 3 miles northeast of Summitville, not far from the Madison-Grant county line.

Troopers discovered 849 plants, with an estimated street value of $849,000, growing in the barn “under high-intensity grow lights,” according to the news release.

“This is the largest indoor marijuana grow operation since I have been coordinator for the post,” Senior Trooper Larry Antic said in the statement. Antic has been the Pendleton Post’s marijuana eradication coordinator for the last nine years.

Antic could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Sgt. Mike Burns, ISP spokesman for the Pendleton Post, said the couple had been under investigation since late February. He declined to say how the couple came under law enforcement scrutiny.

He said investigators were still at the home into Tuesday evening collecting evidence, including the plants in question.

“There’s so much, it’s going to take quite a while,” he said. “They called in the DEA because it was such a large amount.”

Burns said the plants ranged in height from 8 inches to 3 feet, and take about four months to reach maturity. For simplicity, they estimate a mature marijuana plant as having a street value of $1,000.

“It was just all over the place,” Burns said. “The majority were smaller, but they had a few a few feet tall.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what the Combses did for a living. They were both at the home when the warrant was served. It also wasn’t known if they owned the property.

Specifically, Marcus Combs was arrested on suspicion of:

• Dealing marijuana over 10 pounds, a Class A felony; dealing marijuana, a Class C felony; maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony; possession of paraphernalia, a Class D felony; possession of a controlled substance, a Class C felony; and possession of marijuana, a Class C felony.

Denise Combs was arrested on suspicion of:

• Possession of marijuana over 10 pounds, a Class A felony; dealing marijuana, a Class C felony; maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony; possession of paraphernalia, a Class D felony; and possession of a legend drug, a Class C felony.

They were both being held on $35,000 bond late Tuesday. The couple could make an initial court appearance as early as today.

Along with the criminal charges, Burns said law enforcement officials would also seek the seizure of the property.

The Tuesday arrest of Marcus and Denise Combs isn’t the first time Antic has had contact with the extended Combs family. In August, troopers raided the rural Alexandria residence of Marcus Combs’ brother, 46-year-old Maurice A. Combs.

Maurice A. Combs was charged with possession of marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance, both Class D felonies. His son, Madison A. Combs, 22, was also arrested during the raid and charged with aiding in the possession of marijuana and aiding in maintaining a common nuisance. Both are Class D felonies.

ISP investigators raided Maurice Combs’ property in the 9600 block of North County Road 200 West on Aug. 23. They discovered more than 170 marijuana plants, ranging from a foot to 4 feet in height, during a search of the property. They also found 30 more plants growing in a nearby field, according to a news release. ISP officials previously said the marijuana had a potential value of $200,000.

The father and son are both scheduled to stand trial in June.

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