|UPDATE: Marijuana bust worth estimated $434 million |
|Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011 11:58 am |
BULLETIN: As of press time Thursday, the Obion County Sheriff’s Department was reporting 362,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $434 million had been found at a site west of Hornbeak. See Thursday’s Messenger for the complete story.
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder has confirmed for The Messenger today one of the state’s largest outdoor marijuana growing operations has been discovered in the hills south of Webb Store Road.
A news conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex to announce the major drug bust.
Vastbinder told The Messenger early today there are an estimated 50,000 marijuana plants growing at the site.
He said the marijuana operation was discovered when local law enforcement officials received a tip about the operation Monday evening and the local sheriff’s department began its investigation.
Vastbinder said the outdoor marijuana growing operation is located “in the middle of nowhere.”
Three helicopters were brought in to pinpoint the operation and more than three dozen law enforcement officers from different agencies are involved in the investigation — the Obion County Sheriff’s Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the 27th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
Vastbinder said the operation is scattered throughout the hills west of Hornbeak in the area east of South Bluff Road, south of Webb Store Road and north of Putnam Hill Road.
The sheriff said he couldn’t release specific details about the operation since it remains under investigation. No arrests have been made yet, according to the sheriff.
There are barracks set up at the site with shower facilities, tunnels, kitchens, caves with generators, lights, water and pumps to irrigate the marijuana patches, according to Vastbinder.
He said there were also rain reservoirs set up to catch the rain and use it to irrigate the marijuana plants.
Already the TBI crime scene lab has set up at the crime scene and law enforcement officials are collecting evidence.
The local sheriff’s department has been directly involved working with the other law enforcement agencies as they work the crime scene in the western hills of Obion County.
Vastbinder agreed to provide The Messenger with access to the crime scene late today.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at email@example.com. Published in The Messenger 10.12.11