Va. man had marijuana plot near York County SC prison

A Virginia man is facing charges after deputies seized dozens of marijuana plants that were grown on York County property near the prison, according to police and jail records.

Aaron David Palbicke, 35, of Henrico, Va., was arrested Wednesday and charged with trafficking marijuana, between 10 and 100 pounds, and entry on land for cultivating marijuana, according to jail records and Trent Faris, spokesman for the York County Sheriff’s Office.

The land where the drugs were found is York County government property off Langrum Branch Road south of S.C. 5 near the county landfill and prison, Faris said.

The prison sits behind the Moss Justice Center. The Moss center houses the sheriff’s office and county jail, and the York County courthouse where prosecutors, judges and other court officials work.

Palbicke was found in Rock Hill Wednesday and arrested on outstanding warrants after an investigation that started in August, Faris said.

On Aug. 6, deputies found 64 pot plants in the wooded area of York County, a sheriff’s office incident report stated. Public works employees noticed a trail leading into the woods, the report stated.

“Some plants were approximately 4 feet tall planted in the ground, while some were around 1 foot tall and in plastic pots,” deputies said in the August report.

York County’s drug unit, forensics, K-9, and drone team responded to the scene in August where the drugs were seized. Near the plants, deputies found a pit that had been dug to collect water, a shelter with food and cooking supplies, and gardening tools, the report stated. Deputies also found a laptop computer and other items, according to the report.

The trafficking marijuana charge and entry upon lands to cultivate marijuana charge are felonies, South Carolina law shows. The trafficking charge carries up to 10 years in prison and the entry onto lands to grow marijuana carries a potential sentence of five years for a conviction, state law shows.

Palbicke was released from the York County jail Thursday after posting a $20,000 bond, Faris said.

No trial date has been set.

This story was originally published September 23, 2021 3:29 PM.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.

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