JEFFERSON DAVIS COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The number of marijuana plants discovered by Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics in rural Jeff Davis continues to rise with the street value now topping $20 million.
On Friday, another 5,000 plants were discovered bringing the total haul to more than 20,000 according to Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John Dowdy.
"At maturity and depending upon other factors, a marijuana plant can yield about a pound of processed marijuana that could sell for $1,000 to $1,500 on the street, making a conservative estimated street value of this marijuana more than $20 million," Dowdy said. "Locating, tabulating and destroying so many marijuana plants is a huge task."
"We are grateful for the assistance rendered to the MBN by state and local agencies," he said.
Those agencies and personnel, Director Dowdy said, include the Mississippi Department of Public Safety helicopter pilots and crew; Mississippi Highway Patrol; Mississippi Bureau of Investigation; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi Forestry Commission employees Ronald Taylor, James Stephens, Jerry Calvert and Ben Ford; Mississippi Department of Transportation; SCCI Construction Company; Jefferson Davis County Sheriff Department; Jefferson Davis County Board of Supervisors' Beat 1 Supervisor Corky Holliman; District Attorney Hal Kitrell and his investigators; as well as Prentiss Police Department.
Agents will reaming in the area through the weekend and continue the investigation according to Dowdy.
At final count, late Thursday night, over 15,000 plants had been collected, and the estimated street value is over $10 million, and that amount is expected to increase.
"This is very similar to the cartel grows we see out west," said Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director, John Dowdy. "They had irrigation systems built up in here, there's actually a camp where individuals have been living back on the back side of the grow operation."
There were five fields total, set up in a circular pattern, a few hundred yards in the woods off Otis Polk Road, near Highway 13 in Jeff Davis County.
Agents recovered multiple cell phones, a hunting rifle, generators, water pumps and other equipment during their search, which came from a tip that led to authorities flying over the area.
"It's probably the most significant and sophisticated grow that we have seen in the state of Mississippi, ever," said Dowdy.
The multiple acres were covered with wires leading to generators, multiple camp sites, along with water hoses and pumps leading to a water source.
"Somebody's going to jail," said Dowdy.
During the investigation, authorities issued a BOLO for two Hispanic men, possibly feeling from the scene, but no arrests were made.
Majority of the plants in the fields were six to seven feet tall, and multiple fields had drying stations set up to dry marijuana that was already collected.
"Jeff Davis County has been a problem for narcotics for quite some time," said Dowdy. "It's no fault on the sheriff's office, it's a rural county so people can kind of fly under the radar often times, there was no way anyone could ever find this."
"Whoever had this operation going will be out of business for a while," said Jeff Davis County Sheriff Ron Strickland."
MBN agents dug up the plants, and burned some of them on the scene, and hauled the rest away, with some of them to be tested at the state lab.
No arrests have been made at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.