POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Polk County authorities have harvested 21,540 plants from the fourth marijuana field found in the county in the past two months, according to Chief Deputy Byron Lyons.
Lyons said the Polk County Sheriff's office received a tip from a confidential informant about a possible marijuana field three miles east of US 59 on FM 942 just outside of Leggett on Sunday. They went to investigate, but they ran out of daylight.
The PCSO came back to conduct a search the next day. Lyons said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice brought in search dogs authorities thought suspects might still be in the area. In addition to the marijuana, several rifles were found on the scene as well, Lyons said.
Polk County Sheriff's deputies questioned the property's owner and the people who own the home at the front of the property, Lyons said. He said, at this time, authorities don't believe those people were involved in the marijuana growing operation.
"It's still to early to determine that this field is connected to the other three, but I do not believe it's a local operation," Lyons said. "It could be somebody from a bigger city that wanted to cash in on the opportunity to grow drugs in the woods, or it could be a drug cartel. We just don't know yet."
Lyons said he feels that residents are starting to become more aware of their surroundings and are calling in suspicious activity. Lyons said that if a tip is called in, the sheriff's office will respond.
"To the next county, all I can say is my job is and the sheriff has put it upon us that is we find it, we are going to push them out of Polk County," Lyons said. "We are going to do everything we can. Maybe the message we need to get to them is Polk County is not the place to plant your marijuana."
It's the fourth such incident since July 29. The first was in the Goodrich area when authorities harvested 100,000 plants. The next was when 6,500 were found near FM 943 on Aug. 6. And the third was on Sept. 2, when 9,067 plans were found in the Carmona area.
Lyons said that the department has not yet determined the street value, but did say the plants discovered at the sight were highly potent. Lyons added that many plants were ready to hit the streets.
"We found a lot of what we call finished products," Lyons said. "The buds had been broke down, pulled away from the stem, and stacked. The only thing left for that process was to be cut up, packaged, and ready for transport."
Land owner Robert Nichols said he was on his way to work when he noticed sheriff's office vehicles on his land. He said he called his wife and told her to find out why they were there. He said she called back and said he needed to come back home. Nichols said when he returned home, he saw helicopters, vehicles, and a bulldozer in the area.
"I can't believe something like this was happening in my back yard and I didn't know it," Nichols said.
Twenty-four hours after Nichols first talked to authorities, he is still in disbelief.
"I mean, it was almost impossible to believe yesterday, and it still seems like something out of a nightmare," Nichols said.