MACCLENNY, Fla. -- Bins filled to the brim with marijuana plants now line a table at the Baker County Sheriff's Office. It's one of the biggest busts to date and police say deputies stumbled right into it.
The story starts and ends at 121 Morris Avenue in Macclenny where a man got so inebriated on Thursday he became unresponsive. His friend drove him to the hospital.
That's when police got involved.
"We went to the emergency room and were able to determine who had dropped him off there," said Major Gerald Gonzalez with the Baker County Sheriff's Office.
They traced Tony Barber, 49, back to his house. And it didn't take bloodhounds to sniff out what was going on.
"Once the deputies were inside the residence, obviously they could smell a strong odor of unburned marijuana," Gonzalez said.
Approximately 179 marijuana plants and elaborate automated cultivation equipment were found in multiple rooms in Barber's home, just feet away from the United Methodist Church of Macclenny.
"That's a significant amount that eventually would have been distributed on the street," said Gonzalez. "We're obviously very proud of being able to prevent this."
Police estimate if each of those plants were to reach their full maturity, they'd yield around 1 pound of marijuana with a street value of approximately $1,000 per pound.
Barber is being charged with possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or sell within 1,000 feet of a place of worship.