When Gardening Warrants a SWAT Raid

by on April 5, 2013

in drug charges

A Kansas City, KS. family has filed a lawsuit against the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department after the Department’s SWAT team raided their home last year with weapons drawn. The reason for the raid? The Department believed the couple may have been growing marijuana after their purchased greenhouse equipment.

Robert and Adlynn Harte are former CIA agents, who met while working for the federal agency. Both had high security clearance. But both were on the wrong side of the law last year when the SWAT team moved in on their Leawood home.

The couple had made a few trips to a home improvement store over a period of a year. Each time they purchased a couple pieces of equipment for home gardening—they were setting up to grow tomatoes and squash in their basement. But it was apparently these purchases that triggered the interest of local law enforcement.

Tomatoes“You can’t send out the SWAT team because people are trying to grow tomatoes in their basement,” said Mr. Harte of the incident.

The couple has tried in the past to get records, in an attempt to find out what the sheriff’s department said to a judge to get permission from the raid, all to no avail. The lawsuit they filed last week, however, could help them gain access to this information.

During the raid, their children—a 7-year old girl and a 13-year old boy—were seated with their mother while their father was held face down with his hands on his head.

The cops searched everywhere. And they found nothing. The deputies reportedly got frustrated and were making rude comments alleging the 13-year old boy was a marijuana user.

“They would have known in the first minute if they would have checked the equipment and seen the tomato plants,” said the couple’s attorney. “This was a hydroponic garden on the level of a school project, with just a few plants and inexpensive lights. It was nothing.”

If local police are this hard-up for leads that they would canvass home improvement stores, perhaps they should just stop investigating drug crimes altogether.

Not only was the incident traumatic and embarrassing for the family, it was likely embarrassing for the department. The raid was part of a series of raids on that day, where local law enforcement boasted that they confiscated a total of 43 plants and one pound of marijuana—hardly worth boasting about. And they failed to mention that at least one of the homes raided was a complete waste of time and resources.

If purchasing garden equipment can get you investigated for marijuana, there are a whole host of other behaviors that could similarly make you a police target. If you are facing charges of marijuana growing, dealing, or smoking, you need someone that can help you make the best legal decisions to potentially minimize your risks of going to prison. Contact my office today for a consultation.




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