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College instructor arrested for growing pot

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GREEN THUMB - Calvin Hopkins, 53, reads a gardening magazine outside the sheriff's office Tuesday morning. Hopkins turned himself in on a warrant for allegedly growing more than 100 marijuana plants on his property in Indian Springs Ranch. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A horticulture teacher allegedly used his green thumb to grow his own cash crop in southwest Wise County.

Calvin Hopkins, 53, allegedly was growing more than 100 marijuana plants on his property in Indian Springs Ranch near Cottondale. The plants were seized last Tuesday by the Wise County Sheriff’s Department.

Hopkins works at Tarrant County College’s Northwest campus in Fort Worth, where he is an instructional assistant in the horticulture program, which offers such courses as herbaceous plants, plant propagation and soil fertility.

Students can attain credit hours through “alternative methods” such as maintaining their own home and garden landscapes.

Sgt. Investigator Chad Lanier said he received a tip on the property as far back as 2007 but never discovered physical evidence of a “grow operation.” But last week, after receiving another tip, he took a flight in a swift, black helicopter over the property located in the 100 block of North Comanche Trail and discovered towering marijuana plants.

Hopkins was out of town on a honeymoon when deputies harvested his alleged efforts last week. But on Tuesday morning, Hopkins voluntarily turned himself in to authorities. Leaning casually against the county jail entrance, dressed in blue jeans and a blue shirt, Hopkins read a gardening magazine while he awaited his arrest.

Hopkins has a good reputation in his neighborhood.

“He’s been a real good neighbor,” said Tate Hawkins. “As soon as I moved in he introduced himself, and he always offered to help me with anything I needed.”

Hawkins said he had no idea an illegal grow operation was in the neighborhood.

“You can literally not know what’s going on behind your own backyard,” he said.

Hopkins is the second person arrested in the case. Last Tuesday, deputies arrested John D. Oliver, 58, for possession of 50 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana. Deputies found 76 plants growing alongside a creek on his wooded property, which is adjacent to Hopkins’.

The plants on both properties received meticulous care. They were labeled according to specific strain of marijuana and were irrigated by electronic timers. A truck on the property was loaded with fertilizers.

“This kind of operation can lead to all kinds of trouble,” Lanier said.

Until all the buds and leaves off the plants are dried, it is unknown how much marijuana has been confiscated.

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