Authorities uncovered more than 18,200 marijuana plants from an operation in Cherokee County, according to a news release from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
County investigators and DPS narcotics officers responded to areas indicated by personnel in the helicopters.
About 2:45 p.m., the DPS helicopter crew found a possible marijuana field near the banks of the Angelina River, about 1.5 miles south of Farm-to-Market Road 343, which is on the eastern county border, according to a news release.
Ground crews were notified, according to the release, and found “a very large marijuana growing operation spanning several patches.” The marijuana plants ranged from 12 inches to 8 feet in height.
According to a news release, an irrigation system was set up with generators and water pumps from the river, and there were fully equipped camping sites so workers could live on site and cultivate the marijuana. No one was on the property when authorities arrived.
However, signs indicated that there were workers present at the time the helicopter located the first patch and at the time the ground crews arrived, according to the release.
Firearms and ammunition also were found in various locations around the patches and campsite.
Four patches were found.
The three remaining patches were cleared throughout Friday morning, and investigators left the area with two 16-foot trailers and a pickup loaded with the plants, according to the release. They were taken to an undisclosed location and incinerated.
The total number of plants recovered from the four patches was 18,288. Texas DPS Narcotics estimated the value of a plant at roughly $1,000, bringing the total street value to more than $18 million.
According to a news release, camping and irrigation equipment was seized, as were the firearms, ammunition and “other items of potential evidentiary value.”
Because of the nature of this type of investigation, authorities said in the news release that locating who is responsible for the grow operation could prove difficult.
Investigators will contact with the landowners to make them aware of what was found, and continue following any leads that may develop. No arrests had been made as of Friday afternoon.