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Huge AZ Pot Bust: Task Force Shuts Down $1 Million-a-Year Operation

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A drug task force arrested a couple accused of running a $1 million-a-year marijuana growing operation.

Rex Gordon Braley, 46, and Raeanne Tuell, 43, were each charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, money laundering, criminal impersonation, forgery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Agents arrested the pair following a two-month investigation. They also seized more than 50 pounds of marijuana with a street value of more than $200,000, and 63 plants being grown hydroponically in two bedrooms in their home.

The plants would have had a 1-pound yield each four times a year, said Sgt. Randy Weems of the Metro anti-narcotics task force.

Investigators found an operation so sophisticated, it could have produced even more in the future, authorities said.

"We seized enough equipment to set up a grow three times the size," Weems said. He said the investigation began with an anonymous tip.

A federal fingerprint search also revealed the couple were federal fugitives who were indicted in 1992 in Oregon for growing marijuana and money laundering. The couple had fled and assumed false identities, Weems said.

Braley and Tuell are being held without bond on the federal charges in the Coconino County Jail.

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