Martins River man with over 100 pounds of marijuana goes to prison

by Keith Corcoran

A Martins River man is behind bars for two years after admitting to possessing dozens of pounds of marijuana on his Wilbur Hill Road property for the purpose of trafficking.

Johnny Christopher Hatt, 46, was recently sentenced to federal prison on the single drug charge and will be subject to a 10-year firearms prohibition following his release from custody.

Hatt pleaded guilty to the offence during a previous court appearance.

Law enforcement descended on Hatt's Martins River property May 10, 2017 and searched the nine-hectares of land with the aid of off-highway vehicles, a drone and an excavator.

Crown prosecutor Michael MacKenzie told court that over 100 pounds of dried marijuana packaged individually in clear bags and weighing one pound each were found by authorities. Police also found 10 grams of shatter (a highly potent form of cannabis resin) and, MacKenzie said, a "substantive amount" of cash.

MacKenzie said money was hidden on the property and he estimated close to $50,000 was seized. All but $15,000, which was deemed unrelated to the offence, was forfeited.

RCMP, in a news release at the time of the arrest, said police dog services and a tactical troop were involved in the investigation, which required resources from the RCMP's Proceeds of Crime Section as well as members of Halifax district RCMP, Bridgewater Police Service and a specialized integrated unit from Shelburne County.

Police said two marijuana grow operations that included 60 mature plants as well as a combination of processed and unprocessed marijuana that totaled 110 pounds were found during the three day search. Law enforcement also found hash oil and methamphetamine pills, in addition to the cash.

"Drug operations of this scale pose a risk to public safety in a number of ways," Lunenburg district RCMP Staff Sgt. Stephen MacQueen said in the release. "With operations like this, we often see an increase in other criminal or violent acts."

The remaining charges of possessing stolen property, drug possession and two allegations of possession for the purpose of trafficking against Hatt were dropped after sentencing.

Mary Retieffe-Hatt, 47, faced identical offences as Johnny but the Crown didn't pursue those allegations, resulting in the dismissal of those charges in April.

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