UPDATE: County seizes 700 pot plants from nursery

Published on Friday, 8 August 2014 22:25 - Written by Kenneth Dean Kdean@tylerpaper.com

The plants seized Friday from a defunct wholesale nursery just north of Tyler weren’t exactly household variety aloe, ivy, palm or philodendron.

And the heavily armed and tactical clothed men and women were not the typical nursery customers.

They were part of a law enforcement team that confiscated 700 marijuana plants from the site.

The seizure came after the Department of Public Safety earlier this week received a tip about the plants off Farm-to-Market Road 2016 near County Road 427, spokeswoman Jeanne Dark said.

“Investigators utilized DPS aircraft to pinpoint the exact location of the outdoor grow, and then conducted a joint eradication operation with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler Police Department, US Attorney’s Eastern District, Immigration Customs Enforcement of Homeland Security, Smith County District Attorney’s Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,” she said. 

She said the pot crop spanned at least three properties, but it was unclear whether any of the property owners knew what was on their property before Friday. 

Trooper Dark said officers spent several hours at the location, first using SWAT and tactical units to check the area for booby traps or armed individuals. They then removed the plants and gathered evidence.

Authorities found no one at the scene. 

“People have asked why we had SWAT units and tactical gear and vehicles out there, and well it is to make sure our officers are safe,” Trooper Dark said. “This was a substantial grow of mature plants and worth a lot of money. Typically, people with this size of an operation will protect it.”

Trooper Dark said the marijuana field was not one of the area’s largest. The largest pot grow was 15,000 plants found in Cherokee County in 2013, she said. She said the find netted about 70 pounds once dried — for a street value of $35,000 to $37,000.

“These were mature plants, about 5 feet tall,” she said.

No arrests had been made Friday in the case, but she said the investigation was ongoing.