Authorities Confiscate Thousands of Marijuana Plants in Duplin County

SEPTEMBER 18, 2005 -- Authorities say a drug bust in Duplin County could be the largest drug bust in Southeastern North Carolina.

More than 4,000 pounds of marijuana has been found on Old Camp Road, just outside Wallace.

Officials say the marijuana is worth nearly $10 million.

It took over 80 law enforcement officers to put a dent in cutting down stalks of marijuana, ranging from two to 13 feet high.

It's estimated there are 3,000-5,000 marijuana plants. The average street value for one plant is $4,800.  Sheriff Blake Wallace says several hundred plants had already been harvested in the past couple of days. They were covered in camouflage, waiting to be picked up. The Duplin County Sheriff's Office has not made any arrests.

The investigation is ongoing. They say they hope to also make arrests for those who were running the operation, but also the brains behind the operation.

Wallace says whoever was tending to the marijuana had a sophisticated system. They were living in three huts filled with such things as batteries, phone chargers and back packs with sprayers for weed control.

The plants were growing on at least 10 acres of land.

Sheriff Wallace said the drug bust is good for Duplin County.

"Anytime you get this amount of drugs off the street, then we take that as a good thing. I can't help but think some of this marijuana would have ended up in the possession of some children, and some young folks. I think it's a good day to get it off the streets and out of their hands," said Wallace.

The Duplin County Sheriff's Office received a tip late Saturday night about the marijuana.

They went to the site around 2:00 Sunday morning, but weren't sure how many people would be guarding the drugs. They went back at daybreak on Sunday to start confiscating the marijuana..

Reported by Kacey Gaumer