6,200 marijuana plants seized in northern Wayne
By Andrew Bell
Published in News on August 20, 2006 2:06 AM
After walking along narrow trails through hundreds of feet of brush and trees Friday, Wayne County Sheriff's Office deputies and Goldsboro police officers found an open clearing near the intersection of Airport and Lancaster roads.
Surrounding them were more than 350 marijuana plants -- the first of seven more plots that yielded more than 6,200 plants in northern Wayne County, Sheriff Carey Winders said.
The location was about a mile from Norwayne Middle School -- and included a campsite officials think was used by the growers.
The seizure was the second largest in Wayne County's history, topped only by a 15,000 marijuana plant seizure earlier this year. The potential street value of the 22,000 marijuana plants seized this year by the Sheriff's Office and the Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad is about $53 million, if the plants had grown to maturity. Friday's find was worth a potential $15 million, Winders said.
The Sheriff's Office helicopter, which is stationed near the fields at the Goldsboro-Wayne County Municipal Airport, was conducting one of its routine flights over the county when officers on board spotted the plants at about noon. From there, off-duty and on-duty SWAT members, Wayne sheriff's deputies and Goldsboro police officers went through the nearby fields to search the area and seize the plants.
Some of the plots contained plants that were only a foot tall or smaller, which were surrounded by sticks just as long.
Sheriff's Deputy Maurice Cox said growers place sticks near the plant because they soften the ground and allow the plant to grow, but added they also serve as protection. Some animals, such as deer, will try to eat marijuana plants. The weather can also affect a plant's growth. The sticks provide a shield from both, Cox added.
After walking through three plots of marijuana, deputies and officers came upon a makeshift shack hidden by trees and a canopy that officers said some of the growers probably stayed in at various times throughout the summer.
The shack included a plywood bed that still had a few sleeping bags on it, probably left during the last visit. In one corner, there were pots and pans and, in another, someone had left toothpaste behind. Also around the plots were cultivating tools and fertilizers.
Although it is unusual to find these shacks near marijuana plots, Lt. Tom Effler of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office said it isn't uncommon.
"Yep. I've seen them before," he said.
"I guess with today, we just keep showing how outdoor marijuana growing has increased in the county," Effler said.
Winders said one of the reasons there have been so many marijuana seizures this year is because the county had a wet season. When there is a lot of rain, he said, the atmosphere for growing marijuana is better.
During this time last year, weather conditions were drier and not as many seizures occurred, Winders said.
Winders said anyone who notices more traffic and people near wooded paths and desolate areas or any other suspicious behavior should leave the area immediately and call the Sheriff's Office at 731-1481.
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