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One of state's largest marijuana crops found in Jellico

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By Nancy Bright, TYPESETTER

It has long been a tradition that in the fall, people would harvest their crops.

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But a group of marijuana growers in Jellico recently found that someone had done it for them.

Last Wednesday, their crops were found and harvested for them by the Marijuana Eradication Task Force. The task force harvested 151,250 plants in two days last week in the Jellico area. The plants averaged about five feet in height, according to the task force.

The helicopter crew spotted the plants during a flyover. The female plants were growing in treacherous terrain that is owned by a timber company, according to Special Agent in Charge T.J. Jordan. In all, the plants were found in six separate patches and were ready to be harvested. Also found at the sight was an irrigation system and a campsite that could house three people, Jordan said. The terrain was so treacherous that the plants had to be sling loaded and flown out to the Indian Mountain Park to be loaded into dump trucks for disposal, he said. The value of the plants that were harvested in this crop is several million dollars, according to Jordan. No arrests have been made at this time.

This grow operation was similar to one found in Cocke County in June 2008; plants found in that operation were less than two months old. The value would have been $700 million on the street, if they had made it there. A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter spotted that site in the Cherokee National Forest. Jordan went on to say that “these operations are similar to the ones that are being found out west, it’s all about the geography of the areas.”

Jordan talked about the difference in the two eradication efforts saying “there were no male plants in the Jellico patch and the plants in Cocke County were too young to be identified as male or female plants. The female plant is the most sought after plant.” In the Jellico patch, the growers had worked to weed out the male plants, Jordan said. The female plant produces a higher level of THC, making it the more preferred plant.

 “It was a good day for the citizens in Tennessee and a bad day for pot growers,”  Jordan said of last week’s efforts.