**UPDATE** The Associated Press reports that the tally of plants discovered and cleared is now 100,000, “worth an estimated $175 million.”
HOUSTON, Texas–Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a tip from a hunter and discovered tens of thousands of marijuana plants in a remote wooded area. The count is currently at 44,544 and is expected to rise significantly. It appears to be part of a very elaborate grow operation that is spreading throughout East Texas.
The find was made by a deer hunter in a wooded area near Old Highway 35 near the north end of Goodrich, Texas, according to a report on KHOU TV-11 from Houston. The deputies have reported 44,000 pot plants have already been recovered by Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers, Livingston Police Officers, Polk County Constables and Sheriff’s deputies who have been uprooting the plants.
A helicopter was requested by the Sheriff’s Office which has since located four additional fields of the illegal plants.
Breitbart Texas has reached out to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to determine if there is any indication as to who the former owner of these plants is. The swamped sheriff’s office has not yet been able to respond.
A total of thirteen fields have been found according to a Polk County Today report. Inmates from the Polk County Jail were also used to help uproot and load the plants. In the video below shot by Polk County Today, Chief Deputy Byron Lyons said the hunters were going out to prepare their deer lease for this fall’s hunting season on Saturday when the discovery was made. They immediately contacted the sheriff’s office who then started an investigation.
Lyons said the DPS helicopter discovered the four additional marijuana fields today. “We are in the process now of trying to get officers to those fields,” Lyons said, “so that we can go ahead and recover those marijuana plants as well.”
Seventy-two law enforcement officers representing twelve different state and federal agencies were on hand to day to assist in the massive recovery effort and investigation.
No arrests have been made at this time. “When we arrived here on Saturday afternoon,” Lyons explained, “we can tell they were here not long before we arrived. There were still some items that led us to believe that they left not long before we made it here.” Deputies found a couple of campsites and are currently running fingerprints found at the scene.
“The way this is going,” Lyons stated, “We will surpass the last marijuana load that was found here.”
The owner of the deer lease is not suspected in this crime. “It is pretty obvious that these are not residents of Polk County because they were living here on-site. It was a pretty elaborate campsite that they have.”
Lyons explained this type of operation is growing throughout the forest lands of East Texas. “From the intel we have been able to find out,” he said, “it’s a lot cheaper to grow the marijuana here in the United States than it is to grow it elsewhere and have it shipped in or carried across the border. These guys come in and they set up elaborate campsites.”
“This is probably one of many that has gone undetected,” Lyons concluded.
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.