Saturday, a hunter out maintaining a deer lease near Old Highway 35 in Goodrich happened across a what is possibly the biggest illegal marijuana field in Texas history. The field was complete with a camp and sophisticated growing system, with quality water pumps leading out of a nearby creek. The hunter notified the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and investigators converged on the property a short time later. According to Polk County Chief Deputy, Byron Lyons, the investigators will be looking for fingerprints and other forensic evidence in an effort to find those responsible for the illegal grow.
On Monday morning, all branches of local law enforcement arrived to help uproot the plants. Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Officers from Livingston Police Department, Polk County Constables, Investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety, and assistance from law enforcement from surrounding counties (including Harris County) were all present, along with inmates from the Polk County Jail. A DPS helicopter was put to use to help locate other possible growths, and did in fact locate four more large fields of marijuana.
Overall, an additional seventeen fields were found and also removed.
Chief Deputy Byron Lyons stated that such large operations are not just a Polk County problem. More dealers are choosing to grow their marijuana within our borders to avoid the cost and danger of international smuggling. Lyons also stated that operations similar to this one are more than likely a problem throughout East Texas.
The camp that was found in the fields appeared to have been recently and quickly vacated. Clothes were left hanging on a makeshift clothesline, and shoes and sandals were abandoned in the middle of the camp. Fresh vegetables were out, ready to be cut up for a meal, and cell phone chargers hung from trees, powered by batteries and several Honda generators. The pumps were found leading out of the creek, feeding a large water line into PVC pies throughout the fields.
The area around the field was so dense that officials feel the marijuana farmers must have entered the area up the Trinity River, by boat.
Later, several suspects were spotted north of Goodrich and a DPS helicopter gave pursity, with ground support from TDCJ dogs. Part of Us 59 was shut down to one lane as the search went on. One suspect, a Hispanic male in his thirties, was taken into custody. It was during the search for these suspects at least a dozen more fields were found in the area. Due to their isolated locations, law enforcement currently plans to fly helicopters in and airlift the plants out.
By Monday, just over 44,000 plants were harvested. Chief Lyons said with the other fields taken into account, that number could easily go over 100,000. Most of the plants are young plants, there were no buds yet. A dollar value has not yet been put on them.
With temperatures hovering right at 100 degrees, medics were kept busy as several deputies, a game warden, and even a news reporter from KTRE News in Lufkin were treated with IV fluids after succumbing the heat.