New pictures of massive pot growing operation released

(Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department)
(Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department)
(Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department)
(Source: Obion County Sheriff's Department)
(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.

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

An astounding 362,000 marijuana plants, a record number for the state of Tennessee, found in an elaborate growing operation in Obion County. Officials say the rough terrain of the area hid the pot terraced into the hills.

The alleged growers went to great lengths to plant and cultivate this crop.

Authorities still aren't sure how they got in and out of the operation that agents say produced an extremely high quality of pot.

While authorities remain tight lipped about the search for suspects, it appears these were no amateurs.

Authorities are still pulling plants out of the hills. It's something the sheriff says they'll be doing for a few more years until they fully get rid of the crop.

What's amazing to Sheriff Vastbinder and his team is the lengths the alleged growers went to cultivate a crop of the highest quality. The plants were terraced into the hills; trees were sawed off to let the sun in but painted green to remain camouflaged from the air.

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.

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