Aerial Reconnaissance Inc., based in Charlotte, found the plants in the northwest section of the county while conducting aerial surveillance for the sheriff’s office.
"It’s hard and difficult to locate marijuana ... More so than people think,” Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said.
At least 5,000 plants, with a street value of $12 million, were growing near Hollie Pines and Holly Springs roads.
“We’re asking anyone in this particular area who has noticed any suspicious activity or vehicles, people they don’t typically see or know,” to come forward, Rollins said.
The latest bust is only three miles from where marijuana plants, with a street value of $84 million, were discovered growing off Womack Road.
"We were concerned after finding that big (of an) operation that there were others operating in our county,” Rollins said.
It is not yet clear whether the latest marijuana operation is linked to last month's bust. In both cases, Rollins said he suspects drug dealers hired Mexican migrant workers as caretakers for the property.
"They recruit Hispanics, Mexican nationals, that actually come out of Mexico and just stay there. That's their work,” Rollins added. “This may only be a green vegetable-material plant, but along with that comes other crime. We know that there are organized crime units that are doing big operations like this. It’s not just about the marijuana.”
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in each bust.
"If there's more here, we're gonna find it, and if they keep planting it in Harnett County, we're going to catch them before it's over with,” Rollins added.
Please call the Harnett County Sheriff's Office at 910-893-7132 if you have any knowledge of the marijuana operations.
According to a study, North Carolina is the No. 6 marijuana-producing state in the country. In 2006, almost $1 billion worth of marijuana was grown.
Over a 3-year period, marijuana was the top cash crop in the state. Marijuana is the top crop in 12 states and ranks among the top three in 30 states.
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