Monday, April 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Facebook page leads police to Pa. pot fugitive

Phillip Pacheco.
Phillip Pacheco. Facebook

Police tracked down a former Pennsylvania man on the run from a pot growing arrest because the fugitive wouldn’t forego his Facebook page, officials announced Wednesday.

Phillip Pacheco, 35, was originally scheduled to be tried in March 2011 for operating what prosecutors called “a highly sophisticated grow operation” out of his Dauphin County rental home. But instead, the man went on the lam. It wasn’t until this past fall – more than two years later – that “authorities discovered he was on Facebook,” a release from the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office read.

Pacheco was extradited back to Pennsylvania, where he pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana with the intent to manufacture or distribute. A judge on Tuesday sentenced him to a minimum prison term of 2 ½ years.

According to Pacheco’s Facebook account, which was still active Wednesday, his “likes” include “pot,” “Cheech and Chong,” “The Stoner’s Cookbook,” “Medical Marijuana 411,” “High Times,” “420 Magazine,” the “Medical Cannabis Journal,” “The Weed Blog,” “Toke of the Town,” “Weedist,” “Cannabis Now Magazine,” the “Cannabis Training University,” “CannabisSearch,” “Fire it Up America,” “Legalize Marijuana,” “The Green is Good,” the “National Cannabis Coalition,” the fertilizer “Miracle-Gro” and the television series “Weeds.” Pacheco on Feb. 16, 2011 commented on a “Legalize Marijuana” Facebook page post, writing, “now pa needs to,” according to the social media site.

Pacheco was arrested in 2010 after his landlord stumbled across a grow operation inside the man’s Pillow Borough rental home.  Pennsylvania state troopers executed a search warrant on the house, turning up what senior deputy District Attorney Stephen Zawisky, of the Dauphin County Drug Task Force, called “a highly sophisticated grow operation where the defendant allegedly was able to clone numerous high quality plants from a single plant.” Investigators said the setup included 140 high-quality pot plants plus fertilizer, circuit breakers, grow lights and a plant cloning mechanism.

Pacheco, originally of Virginia Beach, allegedly told authorities he was growing the marijuana for sale in another state. He was also on Tuesday handed down a $2,000 fine and a 5-year term of parole or probation supervision after his release.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Alex Wigglesworth PHILLY.COM
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