Multi-County Drug Cartel Interdiction Yields Massive Haul
By Teresa Holloway
Messenger Reporter
ANDERSON COUNTY – The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office reaped almost 4,000 marijuana plants Sept. 1 from an illicit field hidden the woods in the area of ACR 157.
Sheriff Greg Taylor headed up the multi-county drug interdiction operation for Anderson County’s phase of the operation. His unit assisted Smith County in their operations yesterday, Aug. 31.
Taylor and the team were on the ACR 157 site at approximately 4:30 a.m. to begin operations to capture suspects and to contain and destroy the illegal crop.
“This morning about 4:30 is when we started this operation. We were acting on a tip about a marijuana grow in our county. The operations were conducted in conjunction with numerous law enforcement agencies from several places, DPS, other East Texas Sheriff’s Offices.
“We assisted Smith County with a large operation in their area yesterday, Smith assisted us today,” Taylor explained.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division had horses and dogs available for the team’s use. DPS and other specialized operational units were on site, as well.
“We found a marijuana grow in the area of ACR 157 and around that area. We were able to clear the grow and make sure there were no suspects in the grow area,” Taylor began.
“We went in and removed approximately 3,900 marijuana plants. We found evidence of a camp site with tents and water lines to pump water to the plants. Some of the plants were close to six feet tall, most were waist high.
“The property belongs to someone, probably not frequented very often, they don’t go on it very often,” Taylor explained.
“The street value of the marijuana is about $3 million. We’ve already destroyed it. We believe this is drug cartel related and are working in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies to develop suspects.
“We definitely believe this is a drug cartel related type of grow,” he said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s just marijuana,’” Taylor said. “But this isn’t little Johnny growing three or four plants behind the house.
“This is the drug cartel making millions of dollars to spread their criminal activities across the state,” Taylor stressed.
“We don’t believe the owners were involved. That’s something we always look at. We don’t believe they were. This is a piece of property no one has been on in years.
“There’s lots of that kind property in East Texas. I encourage land owners that have property they don’t do anything with – or maybe have future plans for – to go on that property and report any suspicious activity there.
“This is not the first time we’ve found a drug grow in Anderson County. It happens all over East Texas,” he said. “There is a lot of unused property here.”
“We encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious, while they are out or driving around, give us a call,” Taylor said.
The Sheriff explained travelers and community residents might see someone backpacking on property where they’ve never seen anyone before, for example.
“That’s how that happens … they (growers) get dropped off, backpack in and camp out at the site,” he said.
Suspicious activity investigations are best left to law enforcement personnel, but it takes community involvement to help eradicate the growing threat of cartel-run drug operations, officials explained.
Anyone with information on this or other suspicious activities can call Anderson County Sheriff’s Office at 903.729.6068.
terholloway@hotmail.com