House Fire Leads to Drug Bust in Fort Smith

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An early morning house fire led to the discovery of an indoor marijuana growing operation in Fort Smith.

Firefighters responded to a fire at 4800 Mill Pond Court around 3 a.m. and found marijuana plants inside.

Detectives say they found at least four plants in a room equipped with special lighting and an irrigation system.

"The growing operation itself was sophisticated in nature," said Cpl. Paul Smith with the Fort Smith Police Department. "You had a room that had been specially built for the grow operation."

Police also found money, guns and unlabeled prescription pills, according to Cpl. Smith.

“There is an indication that the marijuana was being traded or sold in exchange for the pills," said Cpl. Smith.

Jeff Ledbetter, 39, and Jamie Ledbetter, 37, face charges of manufacturing marijuana, possession with intent to deliver, and simultaneous drugs and firearm possession. They were taken to the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center.

Neighbors say they're surprised by the accusations against the Ledbetters.

"All the neighborhood kids go over to Jeff and Jaime's house," said Andre Good. "Never would suspect anything."

"There's a lot of children, and it's a very quiet cul-de-sac," said neighbor Mayra Estrada. "We've never seen anything unusual happen."

The Fort Smith Fire Department said the majority of damage was to the roof and in the attic and estimates approximately $70,000 in damage to the home.

Fire fighters found evidence that fireworks had been shot off in the area but could not confirm if that led to the house fire.