Task Force Agents Pull Up Another Marijuana Grow in SunnysidePosted: Updated:
SUNNYSIDE, Wash-- Forty-six agents were on-hand tearing plants from the ground.
The Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA came out to help the local task force, Law Enforcement Against Drugs or LEAD.
Pot plants were piled high as agents from both the federal and local level busted a grow this morning in Sunnyside. This is the fifth grow-op found in a vineyard.
"A lot of these grows we believe are connected," said Sgt. Richard Beghtol of the LEAD task force.
Today's bust included both mature plants and some which still had a few weeks to go. Just yesterday, LEAD agents found 20,000 plants.
In Sunnyside, marijuana manufacturers are buying legitimate vineyards to grow their plants. However, LEAD task force agents said there's a few things that tip them off to growers.
Beghtol noted, "The characteristics are different in the fact that grapes don't require a lot of water. They get watered like once every three weeks."
On the other hand, marijuana needs to be watered frequently. Agents say water patterns coupled with other suspicious activities point them in the right direction. But, they have to be cautious. Many of the places where these pot plants are growing are heavily guarded by people with automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns.
"They were heavily armed and more than willing to use whatever force necessary to protect their financial investment," said Beghtol.
Agents said a mature plant is worth around $1,000 so even small crops can be worth a lot of money.