Emily Baucum, News On 6
CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma -- Creek County Sheriff's deputies raided a marijuana-growing operation in a heavily-wooded area along Highway 48 near Keystone Lake.
The deputies said a group of men had been running a camp there since this spring.
Investigators told us some hunters were scouting the woods for their next trip when they ran across the drug farm. The hunters told the sheriff's office they were offered $10,000 or half the crop to stay silent.
Instead, the hunters turned them in.
Creek County investigators tracked down four or five Hispanic men suspected of growing marijuana about a half-mile back into these woods owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. Deputies and a drug dog chased them down, but the men got away.
"They still had tortillas that were still cooking on the fire at that point," said Deputy Chrissie Underwood, Creek County Sheriff's Office.
The Creek County Sheriff's Office showed us some pictures of where the men worked and lived, from a primitive shower to several tubs of food including tortillas, rice, cheese and jalapenos.
"Their bed was actually trees that they had cut and made into a table," said Underwood. "They had ditches dug for the irrigation system. They had a hole about six to eight feet deep where they had been throwing their trash and it was almost full."
Deputies also found this irrigation system and about 500 plants.
"It looked like it had been growing for quite awhile. There were cut stalks everywhere," Underwood said.
Investigators said they'd never seen marijuana trees so big. The stalks were more than three inches thick.
"I've never seen marijuana that tall," Underwood said.
The operation was hidden in plain sight. Homeowners living nearby had no idea they had new neighbors, much less, how those neighbors made a living.
By the time they got caught, the farmers harvested almost all of the plants.
Deputies hauled off several pounds worth of marijuana. One investigator estimated the whole operation might have been worth up to $100,000 per pot harvest.
An investigator said it was the type of operation you see in Mexico, not Oklahoma. The men suspected of growing the marijuana are still on the loose.