This story has been updated with suspect's background and potential penalties.
Howard County police have charged a Laurel man, formerly a Baltimore police lab technician, in a marijuana-growing operation that police say involved hundreds of plants found in his basement.
Manoj Unni, 30, the sole occupant of 9318 Cross Timbers Court, was charged Wednesday with possession of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute and possession of equipment to produce marijuana and drug manufacturing, according to a press release.
He faces up to 16 years in prison and/or $46,000 in fines if convicted, according to court records.
According to Howard County police, Unni is a former civilian crime lab technician with Baltimore City Police.
He stopped working for the agency in 2006, said Baltimore City Police spokesman Anthony J. Guglielmi.
The Howard County Police vice and narcotics division on Wednesday searched Unni’s home following an anonymous tip and located a “substantial marijuana grow operation in the basement, including sophisticated growing equipment,” police said.
Detectives said they found 341 plants yielding, at full maturity, approximately 170 pounds, worth $510,000.
"At this point, there's no indication this is connected to anything of a larger scale," said Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. "Our investigation will continue on what was happening with those drugs after they left the residence."
Police said they also found high-intensity lights, a dehumidifier, air filters, water pumping systems, lighting timers, a CO2 system and a ventilation system.
Unni has been released on $25,000 bond.