Texas police made what could be the state’s largest weed bust in late July, seizing tens of thousands of cannabis plants.
The raid on a grow site in rural East Texas turned up as many as 100,000 plants on a huge farm in a wilderness area. Cops joined inmates from a nearby jail to uproot the marijuana.
The grow, police said, was elaborate and well-planned, allowing it to go unnoticed for months. It covered at least 13 separate marijuana fields.
The bust was carried out in Goodrich, Texas, an isolated area 70 miles north of Houston. Officers from as many as 12 different agencies participated, with at least 70 people on site. Along with the weed, they discovered a complex irrigation system using a local creek.
“They had pumps that were set inside the creek banks and a hosing system that ran back to the fields to where they just turned the pumps on,” said Chief Deputy Byron Lyons of the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. “The pumps would run through the hoses and subsequently through the fields.”
The garden was first discovered by a hunter, who called police. They found a small campsite nearby, along with food, clothing, and equipment. Police said the farmers apparently camped there for at least five months before the site was uncovered.
“They’ll go inside the overgrown area and they’ll clean out a stop inside of it, to where unless you’re actually right inside the plant area, you won’t even know it that they’re there,” Lyons said.
Texas is one of several states along the border where Mexican drug cartels have begun growing pot in state so they don’t have to risk sending it over the border. East Texas is a growing trouble spot for these illegal cartel grows.
Two years ago, police found 30,000 plants on an 800-acre parcel outside Ollie, Texas.
As of late July, authorities had removed about 44,000 plants from the Goodrich site. But a helicopter fly-over revealed there could be more fields. That means the bust could hit 100,000 plants, making it one of the biggest in Texas history.
Police arrested one man at the site of the grow, while another fled the scene. Charges against additional people are possible, police said. Forensic tests were being run to locate additional suspects.
“There were some items that led us to believe that they left not long before we made it here,” Lyons said. “There were a couple of campsites that we found that we will be fingerprinting and trying to get some identifications on subjects that may’ve been here.”