2011-08-25 / Front Page

Big Bust

Nearly 3,000 marijuana plants found in Backus; possible links to Mexican drug cartel
Photos by Krista Tacey


AN EXTENSIVE Operation BAYANET Detective First Lieutenant Jeff Anthony said the plants were growing deep in the woods and they could only be accessed by foot or by ATV. He added the plants were hand pulled and hand bundled before they were thrown in a pit to be burned. AN EXTENSIVE Operation BAYANET Detective First Lieutenant Jeff Anthony said the plants were growing deep in the woods and they could only be accessed by foot or by ATV. He added the plants were hand pulled and hand bundled before they were thrown in a pit to be burned. 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.


LIVING PRIMITIVELY The suspects in the marijuana bust had created a functioning camp in the woods of Backus Township. Gerrish Police Department Sgt. Greg Patchin pointed out bunks and tables made of tree branches, personal hygiene products, clothing and food. (Photos by Krista Tacey) LIVING PRIMITIVELY The suspects in the marijuana bust had created a functioning camp in the woods of Backus Township. Gerrish Police Department Sgt. Greg Patchin pointed out bunks and tables made of tree branches, personal hygiene products, clothing and food. (Photos by Krista Tacey) 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.


FLY OVER FIND The nearly 3,000 marijuana plants found in Backus Township were discovered by helicopter fly overs. The helicopter flew over the wooded area a few more times on Aug. 19 in search of any missed plants. FLY OVER FIND The nearly 3,000 marijuana plants found in Backus Township were discovered by helicopter fly overs. The helicopter flew over the wooded area a few more times on Aug. 19 in search of any missed plants. 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.


BURNING THE PLANTS Members of the Michigan State Police, the Roscommon County Sheriff Department, the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team, the STING Narcotics Unit and the Drug Enforcement Agency worked together to bring down the marijuana growing operation in Backus Township. BAYANET Detective First Lieutenant Jeff Anthony said the plants were burned in a large pit dug by the Department of Natural Resources. BURNING THE PLANTS Members of the Michigan State Police, the Roscommon County Sheriff Department, the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team, the STING Narcotics Unit and the Drug Enforcement Agency worked together to bring down the marijuana growing operation in Backus Township. BAYANET Detective First Lieutenant Jeff Anthony said the plants were burned in a large pit dug by the Department of Natural Resources. Roscommon County Sheriff Randy Stevenson called the camp “primitive” and could not believe how far back in the woods the camp was located.

“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.


HAND DUG WATER SOURCE Gerrish Township Police Sgt. Greg Patchin looks over one of the hand dug wells that were made at the campsite. Patchin said the wells were used for personal use and to water the marijuana plots that were on site. HAND DUG WATER SOURCE Gerrish Township Police Sgt. Greg Patchin looks over one of the hand dug wells that were made at the campsite. Patchin said the wells were used for personal use and to water the marijuana plots that were on site. “The officers did a good job, I’m thrilled to have that much marijuana out of operation,” Stevenson said.

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.



EVIDENCE LINKED TO MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL Before the camp was destroyed, BAYANET Detective investigation and there are links to the Mexican drug First Lieutenant Jeff Anthony said evidence was cartel. taken from the site. He added the case is still under EVIDENCE LINKED TO MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL Before the camp was destroyed, BAYANET Detective investigation and there are links to the Mexican drug First Lieutenant Jeff Anthony said evidence was cartel. taken from the site. He added the case is still under

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