Sheriff: Massive Monroe County pot farm ‘a real commercial operation’

Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick poses in front of a few of the 23,000 marijuana plants seized last week. (Credit: Monroe County Sheriff’s Office)

Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick poses in front of a few of the 23,000 marijuana plants seized last week. (Credit: Monroe County Sheriff’s Office)

The 23,000-plant marijuana farm discovered last week in Monroe County was “a real commercial operation,” Sheriff John Cary Bittick said.

Bittick said the now-uprooted farm — spotted June 23 by airborne members of the Governor's Task Force, a drug suppression arm of the Georgia Department of Public Safety — represented the largest pot bust in the history of Monroe County, a rural area about 20 miles north of Macon. Authorities have estimated the street value of the plants seized to be in excess of $100 million.

The farm, Bittick said Tuesday, was sophisticated. Irrigation lines ran throughout the multiple-acre property, which was broken into “five or six” different plots filled with plants at various stages of development.

That suggests the illicit farmers had been at it for a while, Bittick said.

Bittick said there was also a trailer on the property, from which authorities seized “some cellphones and other records.”

“They had a regular camp set up down close to where the fields were,” the sheriff said. “It looks like they would have a crew down there and then maybe a crew sleeping at the trailer.”

Bittick said there will “for sure be multiple suspects,” but no arrests had been made as of Tuesday.

Authorities kept samples of the seized plants but most have already been destroyed, Bittick said.

Representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Natural Resources, Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted with last week’s seizure, as well as the Bibb, Butts and Lamar County sheriff’s offices.

Bittick said the Governor’s Task Force conducts regular aerial surveillance in Monroe County and throughout Georgia to crack down on marijuana grow operations.