Flyover nets pot arrest

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

JACKSON – One man is behind bars and $40,000 worth of marijuana been seized following a county wide marijuana eradication, according to the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office.

The arrest stems from a Monday aerial search done by helicopter during a marijuana eradication operation in Northampton County, which was conducted by the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office along with the North Carolina National Guard Counter Drug Task Force from Raleigh.

According to Northampton County Sheriff’s Captain George Reed, Rafal Perez Benite, 25, of 154 Fern Lane in Gaston stands charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

During the county-wide search, $40,000 worth of marijuana plants were discovered and seized in both the Henrico and Gaston areas. Benite’s arrest was the only arrest made in connection with the Gaston seizure.

Reed said aerials of an area in Gaston revealed a place where marijuana was being grown. When the helicopter returned later the plants were gone. Further investigation revealed the plants had been moved.

When authorities arrived at the path they found Benite attempting to drive away from the scene, but to no avail as he was stopped.

“(Northampton) Deputy Buford White and his K-9, Bliss, were able to trace the tracks and discovered the marijuana in a wooded area,” said Reed.

Reed added Benite was allegedly tending to the plants when he spotted the National Guard helicopter above, prompting him to hide the marijuana.

Reed said Benite’s 1995 Nissan was seized and upon search of the vehicle drug paraphernalia to facilitate marijuana plants was found.

Benite was taken to the Northampton County Jail and placed on a $10,000 secured bond.

His first court appearance is today (Thursday).

Reed thanked the North Carolina National Guard Counter Drug Task Force for their help with the marijuana eradication, saying the pilot did an “outstanding job.” Reed also thanked White and his K-9, Bliss.