A Grundy County Sheriff’s deputy, hunting on a tree farm in Gruetli-Laager, stumbled upon what may be the largest marijuana operation in Tennessee history last week. By Friday, August 1, investigators recovered an estimated 37,000 marijuana plants with a street value of over $2 million.
Walking off Taylor Road on July 30, the deputy spotted a water hose lying on the ground. Following the soaker hose through brush and trees, he discovered 30 to 50 marijuana plants and called in the find to the sheriff’s department. Officers arrived to begin removal of the plants and soon discovered multiple grow areas.
“When we arrived and discovered the extent of the operation, Sheriff Brent Myers called in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Governor’s Task Force of Marijuana Eradication,” said Sergeant Ray Davis, of the sheriff’s department.
The plants, covering several acres, were cultivated in wooden grow boxes and fed by a well located near an abandoned home. A generator pumped water through miles of PVC pipes and hoses to feed individual plants.
“This operation looks like it has been here for several years,” said Sheriff Myers. “It is very sophisticated. But, you can see the boxes beginning to rot at the bottom. They have been here a while.”
Officers collected the plants throughout the night on Wednesday and into Thursday. The Tennessee Highway Patrol brought in a helicopter to spot grow sites from the air and direct officers on the ground riding All-Terrain Vehicles to hidden areas. Sheriff’s deputies and DEA agents chopped down the plants, many topping off at 14-feet, which were then bundled in wire and removed by the helicopter.
After loading the marijuana onto military vehicles owned by the county, sheriff’s deputies transported the plants to the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office in Altamont for burning.
Not naming the property owner, who lives in Florida and rarely visits, as a suspect, Sheriff Myers stated that the extensive operation required the work of several individuals.
Still under investigation, the final street value of the marijuana is expected to fall between $2 million to $6 million said officers from the sheriff’s department and the DEA.