By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A Puna man and woman police say ran a sophisticated underground bunker marijuana-growing operation in Puna have been indicted on several felony charges.
On Wednesday, a Hilo grand jury returned separate indictments against 60-year-old Charles Howard Lanham III and 67-year-old Linda Lee Stallings.
A nine-count indictment charged Lanham with two counts of first-degree commercial promotion of marijuana, second-degree commercial promotion of marijuana, first- and third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, and four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Stallings was charged with the same offenses except third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug in an eight-count indictment.
Police say a two-year-long investigation that began in Kona resulted in a search warrant executed on a Kokokahi Road home in Glenwood that had an underground bunker on the property approximately 40 feet by 80 feet.
Officers reportedly recovered more than 500 marijuana plants between three- and four-feet tall, about 10 pounds of dried marijuana and a small amount of hashish from the bunker and surrounding property. Also seized for possible forfeiture were $4,000 in cash, two vehicles, a backhoe, trailer, three diesel generators and other tools. Total items for forfeiture totaled more than $100,000, police said.
Police said that the setup of the operation, which used two large diesel generators to power the bunker’s fans and lights, posed a significant risk of fire and potentially, a large explosion. Officers enlisted the assistance of the State Narcotics Enforcement Division and the Hawaii Fire Department’s Hazmat Team to dismantle the pot-growing operation.
Lanham and Stallings were arrested at the scene, but both were released after posting bail, $42,000 for Lanham and $35,000 for Stallings.
First-degree commercial promotion of marijuana carries a possible 20-year prison term upon conviction.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.