UP IN SMOKE: Plants from massive pot-growing operation burned - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Neighbors react massive marijuana crop growing "next door"

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Grundy Co. Sheriff's Office deputies burn part of the confiscated marijuana in their parking lot Thursday. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com Grundy Co. Sheriff's Office deputies burn part of the confiscated marijuana in their parking lot Thursday. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com
A Grundy County Sheriff's Office deputy secures the cargo of thousands of marijuana plants were confiscated Thursday in Grundy County. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com A Grundy County Sheriff's Office deputy secures the cargo of thousands of marijuana plants were confiscated Thursday in Grundy County. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com
Thousands of marijuana plants were confiscated Thursday in Grundy County. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com Thousands of marijuana plants were confiscated Thursday in Grundy County. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com
Helicopters bring some of the thousands of marijuana plants to Grundy County deputies Thursday. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com Helicopters bring some of the thousands of marijuana plants to Grundy County deputies Thursday. Photo by Kimberly Barbour/WRCBtv.com
GRUETLI-LAAGER, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE:  The thousands of marijuana plants confiscated from Grundy County were gathered and loaded by helicopter and cargo trucks where they were transported to nearby Altamont for disposal.

“There were helicopters lifting dope out of the air, there were flatbed trucks, pretty long,” one neighbor told Channel 3.

Scenes from the last 24 hours are hard to forget for neighbors living along Taylor Road.

“We’ve seen every kind of truck and 4 wheeler, everything coming through with loads of, I guess it’s marijuana,” Deborah Meeks said.

One mother, who asked not to be identified, tells Channel 3 she noticed some odd things just weeks before deputies discovered $2 million worth of pot growing just feet away from her Grundy County home.

“I’ve noticed someone has been mowing and trimming paths and making roads and making pathways to walk through,” she said.

She also says some night’s she’s heard music coming from the area the pot was seized, something this mother of three finds more than unsettling.

“Just knowing there’s millions of dollars worth of drugs just right over the yard is just really frightening,” she added.

Meeks has lived with her family on Taylor Road for more than 30 years. She’s still baffled by how such an extensive operation was going on, undiscovered, so close to home.

“I don’t see how they did it without getting caught earlier, really. I mean, this close to everybody. I didn’t even know it was up there,” Meeks added.

Giving this normally quiet neighborhood more than enough excitement for one day.

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GRUETLI-LAAGER, TN (WRCB) - There was a major marijuana bust in Grundy County. Around 37,000 plants were discovered. It took federal, state and local officers more than 24 hours to chop down and haul off the massive load from Taylor Road in Gruetli-Laager. Then they destroyed it by burning it in the parking lot of the Grundy County Sheriffs Office, which took hours Thursday afternoon into the evening.

At first deputies were removing the discovered marijuana with ATV's. Then as they kept finding more state patrol brought in a helicopter and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency stepped in to help.  

Sheriff Brent Myers says a deputy was out walking on the property when he spotted some of the illegal farming operation.

"We just kept digging and stumbled on to a huge amount of marijuana," Grundy County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigator Jon Bell said.

The street value of it all is in the millions.

"Oh it's very sophisticated. They've used generators to pump water out of wells and they've piped it out to different locations where they've stored it in tanks," Bell said.

It was all found in about a mile and a half radius of land located off Taylor Road. Investigators say the property owner lives out of state. They suspect the growers likely just decided to setup shop on what they figured was unused land.

"Well, no doubt it's a bold endeavor for whoever did this," Bell said.

Saying it appears they have been operating there for more than just this summer and put a lot of money into it.

"Somebody has definitely spent some time and didn't do it by themselves," he said.

And now investigators are taking pride in burning it all down as they work to find the criminals behind it.

"It doesn't pay to break the law. Plain and simple,"Bell said.

Just about every Grundy County deputy on the force pitched in to remove it, staying up for more than 24 hours. But investigators say this is just the beginning of the investigation.

UPDATE: The Grundy County Sheriff's Office is burning off the confiscated marijuana plants in their parking lot in Altamont.

The thousands of marijuana plants were gathered and loaded by helicopter onto cargo trucks from Gruetli-Laager, and were then transported to nearby Altamont for disposal.

PREVIOUS STORY: A major pot-growing operation in Grundy County was uncovered late Wednesday.

Officials say the massive marijuana growing operation off Taylor Road in Gruetli-Laager had thousands of marijuana plants that are being loaded onto several large cargo trucks.

Estimates are that the street value of the marijuana plants to be several millions of dollars and may be among largest pot bust in the state of Tennessee.

A helicopter is assisting in the search, carrying loads of the marijuana plants to truck to be counted and carried away.

A part-time Grundy County deputy was tipped off about the growing operation.

Channel 3 has a crew on the scene and will update this developing story.

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