Man faces felony drug charge

Thomas Garcia

More than 350 marijuana plants were seized from two separate pot farms operated in San Miguel and Guadalupe counties.

Mark Hardage, 49, is being charged with felony marijuana distribution after New Mexico State Police seized marijuana worth $218,000 from both of his ranches, said Lt. Cleo Baker of the state police.

Baker said on June 15, State Police officers and New Mexico Livestock Board Investigators served a search warrant and located 102 marijuana plants at Hardage’s ranch near Conchas.

“The officers learned of a second location in Guadalupe County and obtained a warrant for that property,” Baker said. “The officers located 248 plants of marijuana on the ranch bordering San Miguel County.”

The investigation began when agents with state police and the New Mexico Livestock Board said they were tipped that a resident in the Conchas area had a marijuana grove on his ranch.

“Each agency had received a tip around the same time about the activity going on at Hardage’s ranch,” said Lt. Eric F. Garcia, information officer for the NMSP, on June 13.

“We immediately coordinated an investigation which lead to Hardage’s arrest two weeks after receiving the tips.”

Hardage was released from San Miguel County Detention Center on June 16 on a $11,000 bond.

“The investigation was successful and we are currently awaiting the trail phase,” Baker said.