Wednesday, Columbus County Sheriff's Deputies seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in marijuana plants, shutting down a growing house. The Sheriff's Department had been eying the house on Andrew Jackson Highway in Chadbourn for about three months. That's a long time to sit on a known marijuana operation, but Sheriff Chris Batten wanted to wait for activity. The house has been vacant for quite some time. "As far as being an indoor operation, this is a pretty big operation for what we've discovered in Columbus County," Batten said. "We've got approximately 120-150 plants. We haven't done an inventory yet, but more than likely that's a street value of $150,000 - $200,000." The growing house is now history. The marijuana plants, most of them fairly large, got packed up and loaded into the Sheriff's trailer. Two men were taken into custody after the drug sting - Michael Kessler and Jay Dancy. They're both being held under a $50,000 secured bond at the Columbus County Law Enforcement Center. Kessler admitted his guilt to WWAY, and revealed his medical condition. "I've got terminal cancer and I already have a life sentence," Kessler said. When WWAY reporter John Rendleman asked Kessler if he was serious about having cancer, Kessler replied "Yes sir, there's some proof for you. I got cancer. I grow pot. I smoke it to maintain instead of doing harder drugs, and this is what happens." Kessler lifted up his shirt, revealing to John a large scar on his stomach. Kessler and Dancy both have residences in Florida, and own vehicles registered in Florida. The house was rented from two individuals in South Carolina. The Sheriff's office is now looking into the landlord's involvement. Kessler and Dancy are both charged with two counts of trafficking marijuana.
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