By JOSH NEWTON
Authorities seized 33 marijuana plants and a couple firearms while following up on a tip in rural Adair County.
District 27 Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force Director Mike Moore said an agent received information that marijuana plants were being grown in a secluded part of Adair County, along Piney Road, which runs north from State Highway 51, east of Stilwell.
The agent initially met with a member of the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, who also serves on the task force. The two then went to the location, trying to find the cabin that had been described to them.
“The information they had was that there was a makeshift-type cabin down this little pig-trail road,” said Moore.
But when agents pulled onto the trail, they first came across a fifth-wheel trailer they hadn’t been told about. Agents said they spotted pot plants growing nearby the trailer.
“Because of the fifth-wheel that they hadn’t expected, and the location of more marijuana plants, they decided to back out and go get a warrant and assemble of team of officers,” said Moore.
Moore said as agents were backing out of the road, two men walked out of the trailer, and one of them was carrying a rifle. The agents, who were in unmarked vehicles, told the men they had taken a wrong turn and apologized.
“The two guys bought it, and the agents backed out and went back to Stilwell,” said Moore.
A team of law enforcement agents gathered and went back to the property about an hour later. When they arrived, Clifford Skelton – the man who had previously been carrying a rifle – was outside of the trailer, while the other man had left the property.
“[Skelton] was very cooperative and gave us consent to search, then showed us the patches of marijuana that were growing,” said Moore.
Agents seized 33 plants, the tallest of which stood 6 feet, Moore said. They also seized the rifle, which was loaded with 15 rounds; and a sawed-off shotgun discovered in the cabin. Moore said the shotgun’s barrel had been cut down to 13-1/2 inches, and it was loaded with four shells.
Skelton told agents the marijuana was being grown only for personal use. He now faces potential charges of cultivating marijuana and possession of an illegal firearm. Authorities said they will also seek charges against the man who was at the residence and left before Skelton was arrested.
Moore said the DTF received assistance from the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service and the Adair County Sheriff’s Office.