Investigators give tour of pot sites
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
OCONTO COUNTY, WI--We got our first look at the sites of a large-scale marijuana growing operation in northern Oconto County. Thursday the US Forest Service gave a tour of the grow sites busted last week in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Investigators found more than 8,000 marijuana plants growing in a number of different locations.
Deep into the woods, down very narrow paths and across a creek are the remains of the marijuana grow sites.
"There were 200 plants in here [at this site] anywhere from 6 to 8 feet tall," said ranger for the Lakewood-Laona district, Jeff Seefeldt.
Seefeldt says the marijuana has been cut and buried by law enforcement but evidence it existed is still there.
Most of what's left are holes in the ground where the marijuana used to be. But we came across one still planted.
The sites are near a trout stream which keeps them well irrigated, but each site covers such a small area it makes them tough to find. The sites are in remote locations, they are about a mile or two from the nearest paved road, which is why it is often hunters or fishermen who stumble upon them.
"We don't have enough eyes and ears on the ground to see everything that's going on," said public affairs officer for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Suzanne Flory.
A fisherman tipped agents off to these grow sites. Once they busted them, agents found the camps where the seven suspects had been living for months.
"They don't leave they get drops off of food and re supply," said Flory.
For law enforcement it is an ongoing battle. The case far from closed with more leads to follow up.
Seven people have been arrested and charged in connection with the case. Six of them appeared in federal court Thursday and pleaded not guilty to manufacturing and distributing marijuana.
A jury trial has been set for November 5th.
A seventh person is being extradited from Idaho and will also face charges.