At a massive marijuana grow operation in Goodrich, Texas, law enforcement officials found more pot plants than they could handle. So they brought in Polk County jail inmates to help pull out the weed. Wearing iconic black and white striped jail suits, the prisoners assisted 70 officers from 12 agencies with the removal efforts. So far, more than 44,000 plants have been uprooted.
An aerial search revealed an additional 15 more fields. The total take could be more than 100,000 plants with an estimated value of $175 million, possibly the largest marijuana bust in Texas history. It’s definitely the largest marijuana bust in the history of Goodrich, a small town 70 miles north of Houston and a population of 271 people.
When officers arrived on the scene, they found thousands of marijuana plants being fed from a sophisticated irrigation system with water being pumped from a nearby stream. A makeshift campground with food and equipment was in the area. So far, one person has been taken into custody, and police are looking for additional suspects.
The dense foliage allowed the growers to set up shop without being detected for quite some time. “These guys are building trenches, pumps, set up irrigation systems,” said Polk County Chief Deputy Byron Lyons.”They’ve got their own little camps, tents, tent cities. It’s a pretty elaborate set up.”
Chief Lyons told reporters the operation involved several individuals based on what officers found on the secluded property. He said the marijuana farmers had to take the Trinity River and then the Long King Creek to get to the site. Lyons also claimed someone else would bring the workers food on a daily basis. However, he did not explain how he knew the details of the operation.
Town resident Lance Sarver told USA Today that he’s only seen marijuana grow operations on television. “I’ve watched that uh the California grow people where they use the river to feed water to the plants,” he told the paper. “You figure you could smell it cuz it has its own smell.”
Officials brought in bulldozer that is making temporary roads to help clear out the marijuana. Helicopters will be used to airlift some plants off the land because officials can’t get to them by automobile. Lyons says the removal operation is expected to be complete by Tuesday and officers are guarding the property overnight.