Five charged in hemp plant thefts

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William Calvin Cooper

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Jaquel Baker-Johnson.jpg.jpg
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From Staff Reports

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Five Edgecombe County men have been arrested in connection to recent hemp thefts.

According to a news release from the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office, an Edgecombe County deputy responded Monday to a report of a suspicious vehicle near a hemp field, whose location was not released. An investigation led the deputy to find three people — identified as William Calvin Cooper, 28, Malik Hudson, 21, and Jaquel Baker-Johnson, 25, all of Tarboro — trying to steal hemp plants from the field. 

Each suspect was charged with second-degree trespassing and released on $2,500 unsecured bonds.

Another deputy responded to the same field Tuesday after also responding a report of a suspicious vehicle at that location. Two people were found with hemp plants that had already been stolen, according to the release. The suspects were identified as Milton Epps, 36 and Kenneth Antonio Williams, 28, both of Rocky Mount. 

Each man was arrested and charged with felony larceny and second-degree trespassing. Williams also was charged with driving while license revoked. Both suspects were jailed under $50,000 bonds in the Edgecombe County Detention Center.

Court records show Cooper and Hudson are scheduled to appear on their charges Oct. 25 in N.C. District Court in Tarboro. Court dates for Epps, Williams and Baker-Johnson were not listed at presstime.

Lt. E.W. Muse said he is not certain about the suspects’ intentions for the hemp plants.

Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson stressed that “the Sheriff’s Office will continue to monitor the hemp fields in the county and arrest anyone trespassing at these sites.” He also stressed that “industrial hemp is not marijuana.”

“It contains less than 1 percent THC,” he said, “meaning that it will not get you high like marijuana will.”