New pictures of massive pot growing operation released - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

New pictures of massive pot growing operation released

(Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department) (Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department)
(Source: Heartland News photographer Mike Mohundro) (Source: Heartland News photographer Mike Mohundro)
(Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department) (Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department)
(Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department) (Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department)

OBION COUNTY, TN (KFVS) -

The Obion County Sheriff's Department has released some new pictures of the property where they discovered hundreds of thousands of marijuana plants. It was possibly the biggest pot growing operation in Tennessee state history.

Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder says there are at least 300,000 marijuana plants in a huge outdoor grow operation.  He says the plants have a street value of $400 million.

Officers began destroying the plants Thursday morning, burning about 50 yards worth on county-owned property near the sheriff's department.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the plants were growing in a remote area between Reelfoot Lake and Lake Isom.

Authorities say the huge operation included a retention pond, tunnels for generators and living and cooking areas.

"This is a grow like what they are finding on the west coast," said Special Agent T.J. Jordan with the Governor's Task Force on Marijuana Eradication. "This isn't just significant for Tennessee, but also Missouri and Kentucky and Illinois and a number of other states around here."

"It left me speechless," said Sheriff Vastbinder.

Sheriff Vastbinder says the grow operation was found in a five square mile area.

"These people had come and built a little settlement," said Vastbinder. Vastbinder says it appears the suspects were living among the plants.

"They had sleeping quarters, a kitchen, showers, and had even carved tunnels in the hills. We had to take a bulldozer just to get there.

We aren't sure how they got in," said Vastbinder. "They worked hard to cultivate this crop. There were 1000's of pounds there ready to be shipped out."

Sheriff Vastbinder says a citizen stumbled upon the plants while he was out scouting for deer and alerted authorities Monday.

"It's on private property," said Sheriff Vastbinder. Vastbinder says they told the owner who was shocked. "The area is just so remote. The owner had no idea."

A nearby cattle farmer was also unaware the huge pot production was going on so close to his home.

"This is a very significant bust," said Special Agent Jordan. "This is a great day for law enforcement and a bad day for some pot growers."

No arrests have been made yet.

Stay with Heartland News as we work to bring you picture from inside the living quarters associated with the operation.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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