POSTED: Friday, August 31, 2012 - 12:38pm
UPDATED: Friday, August 31, 2012 - 3:19pm
CHEROKEE COUNTY — UPDATE (1:30pm): Officials have cleared all four marijuana patches.
The first patch had 7,500 plants, and after clearing all 4 patches, they ended up with 18,288 plants.
Texas DPS Narcotics authorities estimate that each plant was about $1,000, bringing the total street value of the plants to about $18,288,000.
The plants filled two 16-foot trailers and a pickup truck.
They were taken to an undisclosed location and burned.
Law enforcement also seized the camping and irrigation equipment along with the firearms, ammunition and other evidence.
Investigators will contact the landowners to inform them of the finding, and will follow any leads as they develop.
No arrests have been made at this time.
ORIGINAL STORY: Marijuana plants up to 8 feet tall have been found within four patches of plants near the Angelina River, in eastern Cherokee County.
The plants were found on Thursday, August 30th.
Cherokee County investigators, DPS narcotics officers, DEA agents and the Texas National Guard participated in the search for the fields.
During the morning and early afternoon, two helicopter crews flew over heavily wooded areas searching for the fields.
The investigation is part of the Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program, or DME, which is dedicated to the eradication of domestically grown marijuana.
Around 2:45pm on Thursday, helicopter crews spotted a possible marijuana site near the Angelina River, about 1.5 miles south of FM 343, on the eastern border of Cherokee County.
Ground crews were alerted to the patch, and investigated the area.
They found a very large marijuana grow operation, which included several patches.
The plants ranged in size from 1 to 8 feet tall.
The site had an irrigation system and generators, which pumped water from the river. There was also a fully equipped camp site, where the workers lived to cultivate the plants.
Officials also found firearms and ammunition stashed around the marijuana patches and the camp site.
Nobody was found on the site at the time, but investigators tell KETK there were indications that workers were present when the helicopter conducted the sweep.
As of Friday morning at 7:30am, only one of the four marijuana patches had been removed by investigators.
The first patch contained 7,500 marijuana plants.
The total yield from all patches is expected to be up to 20,000 plants.
KETK will provide more details as soon as they are released.
Information from Cherokee County Sheriffs Office