Approximately $3 million of marijuana was burned the afternoon of Aug. 19 following a three week investigation where law enforcement agencies tracked a significant marijuana growing operation in the woods of Roscommon County’s Backus Township.
Detective First Lieutenant Jeff Anthony of the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team said a total of 2,998 marijuana plants were taken from the woods after law enforcement officials found the operation using a helicopter.
“It’s not a local person, it’s an extensive grow operation,” Anthony said.
Since the growing operation was deep in the woods, Anthony said law enforcement agencies had to use ATV’s and travel by foot to hand pull the plants that were eventually disposed of by a large burn.
Anthony said suspects have been identified and there seems to be a link to the Mexican drug cartel. He added the people associated with the operation are “dangerous individuals” and advises people to immediately call the police if they find such an operation in the woods.
“They truly were living in the wild,” Anthony said.
Sgt. Greg Patchin of the Gerrish Township Police Department gave the Resorter a tour of the marijuana operation camp. Patchin said extracting the marijuana plants would have been more difficult had the Department of Natural Resources not cleared a makeshift road to the camp. Along the densely wooded trail, Patchin pointed out the fact that some of the trees were cut low to allow space for the marijuana plants to grow while others were left to stand to help cover the operation from above.
Patchin said the growers had made the woods their home by constructing a living space that included tents furnished with bunks made of tree branches, a kitchen space and a makeshift hygiene area. Patchin also pointed out hand dug wells that were used for personal hygiene and to water the plants. The camp was littered with personal items like clothing, boots, food and a shrine marking the area.
“How they were able to find that area, I will never know,” Stevenson said.
During his career, Stevenson said he has never seen such a large operation and is happy to have his department be part of such a significant bust. He said the department assisted the other agencies by monitoring and patrolling by “being a visible police presence.” He added the department also helped in the pulling and transporting the plants to the burn site that was provided by the DNR.
Anthony said along with the Roscommon County Sheriff Department and BAYANET, the Michigan State Police, the STING Narcotics Unit and the Drug Enforcement Agency all worked on the bust. He added the case is still under investigation.