Major drug discovery in Harnett County

July 21, 2008 6:36:02 PM PDT
Officials have destroyed more than 5,000 marijuana plants with a street value of $12 million.It happened in rural northwest Harnett County, down a path just outside the town of Broadway.

"All of it setup like they were living here," Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said.

Although the campsites are now empty and the growers long gone, their living quarters remain intact, where tents were their sleeping quarters.

By the creek, a laundry room with an irrigation system, underwear and other clothing still hang dry on a homemade clothesline and a container of tide detergent sits in the mud.

Even a kitchen area with a makeshift stove, more than 100 eggs, rice, beans, fresh tomatoes and tortillas were at the site.

"They recruit Hispanic Mexican Nationals. They come out of Mexico and just stay here, that's their work. When complete, they go back," Rollins said.

Authorities suspect they brought the seedlings in small plastic cups. Once they plant the seedlings into the plot of land these can get to 6 or 7 feet tall. If the plants would have grown any longer, they would have reached 16 feet tall.

But they didn't. A private company from Charlotte spotted the marijuana campsite from the air. The National Guard joined sheriff's deputies to pluck them out one by one.

"If you plant it in our county and we find it, you are going to lose your dope number one. We hurt their pocketbooks," Rollins said.

Each plant has a street value $2,400.

Just last month, Harnett County made a similar bust at another campsite, 3 miles away from Monday's bust where they confiscated 40,000 plants. Officials hope to tear down any hope for future growing operations.

Police say they do not know who is responsible for the operation and no arrests have been made.

They have DNA, but say it'll be hard to find a match if the growers are not in the criminal database.


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