Local News

Sampson deputies seize marijuana plants worth millions

Posted September 4, 2009

— Law enforcement officers found thousands of marijuana plants with a street value they estimated at $6 million growing in a wooded area near the Black River Thursday, according to the Sampson County Sheriff's Office.

Aerial surveillance found about 2,400 plants growing about a half-mile off Dr. Kerr Road in Ivanhoe, said Capt. Eric Pope, with the Sampson County Sheriff's Office. The 1,800-acre tract is owned by mining company American Materials Inc.

makeshift campsite Sampson deputies seize marijuana plants

The people growing the marijuana fled the scene before the raid and were illegally squatting on someone else's land, Pope said. No one has been arrested.

"The southern part of Sampson County still has vast wooded areas that are ideal for someone to set up their operation without the risk of being detected easily," Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said. "I'm just thankful we were able to locate the marijuana plants before they ended up in the hands of someone else's child."

Thornton says the squatters are likely Hispanic migrant workers hired by a drug dealer to grow the crop. He called it a sophisticated operation.

Law enforcement agents cut down and confiscated the marijuana plants.

The growers had set up an unsanitary camp site, with tents, food, grooming instruments and irrigation equipment, Pope said.

A toothbrush and razor hung from a branch above a tree where the growers bathed and washed their clothes, he said. A water pump and generator in the creek served as the irrigation system for the plants.

The State Bureau of Investigation, Bladen and Duplin county sheriff's offices, Clinton Police Department and federal Drug Enforcement Agency assisted with the operation.

Investigators found a similar marijuana-growing operation outside Garland in June. Deputies seized 11,000 plants they said were worth $27 million.


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  • ncmidteacher Sep 4, 2009

    Okay, so for those of you saying the estimated value of the plants is inflated....... were you there in the woods with the deputies???? Did you actually see how many plants there were? Have you been trained to calculate the values? If not, please don't be so quick to point fingers!

    Being from Sampson County myself, growing up and living here for 29 years, I know SEVERAL people who I went to school with that started out smoking pot and now are meth/crack/pill heads.

  • shadow315 Sep 4, 2009

    I can't believe they waste our tax dollars this way.

  • SilverWolf Sep 4, 2009


    The only thing worse than unjust laws are the people who support unjust laws. People with attitudes like yours deserve neither the guarantees of the Constitution nor the protection it offers. It is our duty to fight injustice in every hall that it is found in. I suggest you take the time to do some soul-searching and figure out why you feel a need to discriminate against your fellow Americans. Just because its the law doesn't make it right. One only needs to look at history to figure that one out.

  • rjbunn Sep 4, 2009

    Do u know how many laws are written that are not worth the paper they are on. The laws need to be changed, just like they were for alcohol. They have to mention how u don't want this to wind up in yours kids hand, better hope that winds up there rather than alcohol and the other mess out there. If a small kid stumbled upon one and ate the plant, it is less harmless than the poison located in the woods. Get the sorry child molestors, murderers, pill heads, crack heads, etc, thats where the money and time should go, not on a harmless plant, that all they can say is a "gateway drug", never will understand how alcohol is acceptable and u can DIE off it, never been a death, just off MJ. People can change the laws, and it will happen one day, as more start expressing their views. I know people that have smoked it for 30 years, raised families, worked, retired, church members, community volunteers, and have never hurt a soul!!! So smoke on that!

  • CrewMax Sep 4, 2009

    Other than some OSHA violations, there should be no problems here.

  • rj4as805 Sep 4, 2009

    Waste of time and resources??? Last time I checked it was illegal, plain and simple. No ifs and or but's. The law is in black and white, and no matter what your opinion is you can't get past it. I suggest if you don't like the laws, pack your bags and move to another country.

  • ICTrue Sep 4, 2009

    Huge waste of time and resources, give me a break...

    The estimates on the value are laughable.

  • miketroll3572 Sep 4, 2009

    Tell me if you guys and gals agree with this: Alot of your pot smokers are your next door neighbors, blue color, white color, doesn't matter. They are productive citizens, take care of their families, pay their taxes, and most have never been arrested or had a speeding ticket. Does should tell the Gov something

  • angelsrule67 Sep 4, 2009

    The lack of marijuana prohibitionists commenting on this story is very telling.Surely some cop,judge,or politician could chime in and tell us ONE good thing that has resulted from the war on drugs.The WOD is the very reason grow ops like this one exists.According to the ONDCP,Americans spend about 10.5 BILLION dollars a year on pot.That's money that leaves this country,never to return.Why must we have a policy that creates this type of situation?The drug war has not changed supply or demand.Pot is as cheap as it was 20 years ago.The cartels continue to kill,over a weed that could easily be grown and regulated right here.So,I think we deserve an answer from the drug warriors.How are you helping our country?If a child had wandered into that pot feild,and been shot by a grower or cop,who would really be to blame?The answer is not in finding more pot feilds.It's in changing the laws that make these feilds profitable.

  • ghimmy51 Sep 4, 2009

    Well whoopie. This didn't save one life, stop one weed-crazed armed robber or prevent one burglary. I'd feel much better if they'd find meth labs, lock up people selling exstasy or crack. All they did was cut down Doritos and pizza sales.