06/16/04 — Squad spots large field of marijuana

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Squad spots large field of marijuana

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 16, 2004 2:02 PM

Wayne County authorities on Tuesday snuffed out one of the largest marijuana growing operations in the county.

A total of 270 small marijuana plants were seized by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad in woods off Benton Pond Road.

The plants have an estimated street value of $648,000 at maturity, officers said.

The plants were found in an area about 30 feet by 30 feet.

"Someone had raked the area in the middle of the woods," Sheriff's 1st Sgt. John Denny said. "It stuck out like a sore thumb."

Officers on the sheriff's helicopter "Raven" had spotted the plants at about 1:15 p.m. near N.C. 222 and notified officers on the ground.

Drug squad officers and deputies are now trying to determine the ownership of the plants.

"Many landowners are unaware of who is growing stuff on their land," Sheriff Carey Winders said today. "They may have hundreds of acres."

Winders said it was difficult to charge someone with the crime.

"You have to set up and see someone tending to the crop to implicate them," the sheriff said. "It takes a lot of man hours, because you don't know what time they would tend to it."

Denny said it was the largest discovery of marijuana at one place in the county. Deputies had seized about 150 plants off Indian Springs Road and had made another big haul at Grantham.