Suspects in Wake drug sting appear in court

DEA carry marijuana plants out of a Raleigh home. (Photo Phil Thalheimer/WTVD)

April 30, 2010 9:28:21 PM PDT
Wake County ABC Law Enforcement has confiscated more than 200 marijuana plants from various Wake County residences and has arrested several suspects following a 5-month investigation.Search warrants released Friday afternoon at the Wake County courthouse documents illegal pot growing activity by five suspects and names a number of other Raleigh residents who may be connected to the case. The investigation specifically targeted the manufacture and distribution of marijuana in Raleigh and the Wake County area.

Authorities executed eight search warrants at homes in Raleigh and one in Fuquay Varina Thursday. All of the homes are located within neighborhoods that are in the vicinity of schools, city parks and a daycare center.

Officers discovered indoor marijuana growing operations and seized about 240 plants. They also seized large amounts of processed, ready to sell marijuana.

On suspect, Ryan Klein, was the first to face a judge on Friday. His attorney said Klein has a PHD and a great job at GlaxoSmithKlein in RTP and no criminal record.

The judge agreed to lower his bond from $500,00 to $200,000, but not before the prosecutor dropped a bomb.

"This appears to be a case that will be adopted by the Feds," Wake County Prosecutor Doug Faucett said.

Sending the cases to federal court could mean more stiffer sentences if the suspects are convicted.

Another suspect, Travis Lam also appeared before a judge Friday. His attorney also got his bond lowered telling the judge that Lam has a wife and 9-year-old son.

Lam is a licensed real estate agent whose name is on a for sale sign in front of one of the Raleigh houses raided Thursday.

"He's on probation for a controlled substance offense," Faucett said.

That offense was a pot charge in Franklin County in November. According to a search warrant, Lam was stopped by sheriff's deputies there who smelled pot in his car.

They found a small amount of what appeared to by organically grown marijuana, large stalks from pot plants and documents connecting him to addresses in Raleigh. The information was turned over to Wake ABC agents who took five months to uncover the alleged ring.

William Ramsey was also caught up in the dragnet.

"Mr. Ramsey has been in the area for quite some time," Defense Attorney Hart Miles said. "He has three young children all under the age of three."

According to a search warrant, the power bill at a house on Drewry Lane is in Ramsey's name even though he doesn't own it.

The really, really high power bills made investigators suspect special lights were being used to grow pot.

Search warrants also list the owners of a number of cars seen at the houses. Two of those people were also arrested in the round-up. But many of the others -- including a Raleigh attorney -- have not been arrested.

"This was intended to be tier one level of this investigation - these first five, uh, first nine searches," Wake ABC Law Enforcement Chief Lew Nuckles said. "We're going to move forward from here."

ABC11 has done a search of real estate records that show ties between the suspects and others mentioned in search warrants. There could be more arrests to come, especially with the Feds now jumping in.

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