08/03/2007

Tex. police spot estimated 30,000 pot plants, a possible record

By Paul Meyer
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS COUNTY, Tex. — A sprawling marijuana plantation with an estimated 30,000 plants near Mountain Creek Lake was discovered Wednesday in what may be one of the largest such finds in the southern U.S., Dallas police said.

Officers spotted the field from the air, but Drug Enforcement agents were unable to access the area by foot Wednesday.

DEA spokeswoman Terri Wyatt said she could not confirm the estimated size of the crop until authorities were able to survey the site on the ground. But Dallas police officials confirmed to The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV (Channel 8) the estimated number of plants, worth $20 million to $25 million on the street. That amount would far dwarf the previous record haul unearthed last month in the same area.

"It's huge. It's probably going to be the biggest one [ever] in Dallas County," said one Dallas police official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Three of the four large, outdoor pot caches discovered recently in the Dallas area have been in the Mountain Creek area, including the previous record haul of 10,451 plants found last month.

On Sunday, police discovered about 1,600 more plants in the same area near Interstate 20 and Spur 408.

"A crop of this magnitude is more than likely the result of a Mexican drug cartel," Special Agent Wyatt said. "Only time and more evidence and more leads and more investigating will prove or disprove that."

Special Agent Wyatt said the fields around the lake are probably run by the same group of people. No arrests have been made.

"There's still a lot to be done with the leads that we have," she said.

Another field was uncovered last month just a few hundred yards behind the regional DEA and FBI headquarters on Stemmons Freeway.

Special Agent Wyatt called the number of recent finds unusual, but she said data analyzed over the last decade show no trend in the volume of marijuana seized locally.

She attributed part of the latest flurry of activity to heightened vigilance and public awareness after the first fields were found.

Copyright 2007 The Dallas Morning News

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