Massive Marijuana Operation Busted Near Mannford

Friday, August 9th 2013, 4:24 pm
By: Tess Maune

Millions of dollars worth of pot plants burned as Creek County deputies harvested rows of marijuana hidden in the woods of Creek County Friday.

Neighbors said a piece of property about five miles southwest of Mannford sold about a month ago.

Creek County Sheriff John Davis said two of the growers have been living in a camper on the land and they only had to walk about a hundred yards to get to their crop.

A perfectly cut trail led deputies straight to a plantation of pot; 6,270 marijuana plants in all.

"It appears it is gonna be one of the larger ones that we've dealt with, really as far back as I can remember," said Davis.

He said each plant is worth as much as $600, which makes this operation worth nearly $4 million.

One-by-one deputies plucked each weed from the ground, as members of the drug task force stood guard.

"Sad day for the growers," Davis said. "A good day for the citizens of Creek County, that we're gonna keep this amount of marijuana off the streets."

The sheriff said the growers spent a lot time maintaining the elaborate set-up. He said they even installed a water well, to help irrigate the crop.

But neighbor Jason Cooley said he had no idea the pot was growing near his backyard.

"Usually, when you drive by and I'm down here, they'd just work up front, right here by the trailer, so they must have been doing this at night," Cooley said.

The sheriff said a tip led deputies to a remote piece of property.

"We're in areas where they're not really occupied by citizens," said Davis. "On these rural pieces of property, out in the middle of nowhere, nobody shows them any concern and they're out here doing their thing".

And while the property may be rural, there are some homes and families sprinkled throughout the countryside.

"I've got children, the neighbor next door has children, and it's just ridiculous. It needed to be stopped," said Cooley.

One man was working the land when deputies served a search warrant. He was arrested, but deputies said he is not cooperating with the investigation.

The sheriff said that man, whose name has not been released, is just one of many crop caretakers, who answered to someone higher up.

"We don't feel that the ones that are out here working and stuff are the masterminds behind the grow operation," Davis said.

Davis couldn't confirm the crop is connected to the Mexican drug cartel, but said he couldn't rule it out either.

"If this isn't, it eventually very well could be. It's also a face of the times," said Davis. "They keep expanding...they've got Mexico sewed up, they're starting to branch out into the United States."

Detectives are looking into whether the landowner was involved, but Davis said it's not uncommon for the property owner to be oblivious to such operations.

"If you have an absent landowner, that they know there's no traffic into, anything's available to these guys," he said. "They'll come in, set up camp and start the process".

The sheriff said as many as 15 people were out working crops at one time, so he expects more arrests in the future.

"They're the guards, the security," Davis said. "Their main function is they come out, they tend to the plants, they water, they take care of everything that needs to be, and also serve the purpose of the lookout."

And while Davis said the bust isn't going to stop drugs from going on the street, taking a chunk away is a start.

"This is gonna go somewhere. Is it gonna go to our children? Where's it gonna go? So, the more that we can stop at this point right here, the less we have to worry about on the street," Davis said.