Five facing charges for stealing hemp in Edgecombe County

Clockwise from top left: William Cooper, Jacquel Baker-Johnson, Kenneth williams and Milton Epps. Not pictured: Malik Hudson (Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office photos)

TARBORO, Edgecombe County - Five men face charges of either stealing or attempting to steal industrial hemp from farms in Edgecombe County.

Deputies with the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office arrested William Cooper, Jacquel Baker-Johnson and Malik Hudson on Monday. Authorities responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle near one hemp field. They said they found the men trying to steal plants. The three are also charged with second-degree trespassing. They were each released under a $2,500 unsecured bond.

Milton Epps and Kenneth Williams were arrested on Tuesday. Deputies responded to another report of a suspicious vehicle in the area of the same hemp field and said Epps and Williams stole two hemp plants. They were each jailed under $50,000 bonds due to additional charges.

The sheriff's office said it will continue to monitor hemp fields in the county and will arrest anyone trespassing.