Twenty-six marijuana plants and a stash of child pornography land a Burlington County Navy veteran in the county jail until a court appearance.

James Hightower (Burlington Co. Dept. of Corrections)

James Hightower, 48, of Palmyra, was arrested Friday morning following a search of his Riverfront Drive house. A spokesman for County Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina said that investigators were forced to break into the house when Hightower refused to let them inside.

Once inside, they found the plants growing in his living room and garage, authorities said. They also seized computers, cell phones and other digital devices.

The arrest culminates a probe that began in January, when the Prosecutor's High Tech Crime Unit received a notice of suspicious online activity, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Detectives allege that Hightower uploaded images of underage girls involved in sex acts with adult men.

Hightower is charged with a first-degree count of operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility, second-degree manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled dangerous substance, and third-degree child endangerment.

Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.

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