Marijuana grow operation uncovered, police search for man who - - Columbia, South Carolina |

"These are some of the largest plants I've ever seen" in pot bust

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The size of a quarter compared to a stalk of marijuana found in Fairfield County The size of a quarter compared to a stalk of marijuana found in Fairfield County

A State Law Enforcement Division helicopter flying over Fairfield County on its way back to Columbia detected a major marijuana farm Thursday afternoon.

Drug investigators from SLED and the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office seized 631 marijuana plants in a growing operation about 2 1/2 miles off Highway 321.

"These are some of the largest plants I've ever seen," said Chief Deputy Keith Lewis. Some of the plants' stalks were tree inches in diameter.

Investigators had to use a variety of all-terrain vehicles to get the plants out of the woods.

Lewis said this is the second major marijuana eradication in Fairfield County this year.

"We've found other plants here and there," said Lewis, "But nothing of this magnitude."

"Fairfield County, Chester County and York counties are big areas for it," said Capt. Brad Douglas. "We think they're picking them because they're rural areas."

Deputies don't think the farmers are probably not from this country.

"The same kind of food we've seen in other areas. Eggs, dried beans and tortillas. Hot peppers hanging from the tree there," Douglas said.

The bags of Miracle Grow appear to have gone toward vegetables too --- including zucchini, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Whoever was eating it took off as soon as a SLED helicopter caught site of the fields. The chopper, along with bloodhounds, searched the area, but the man was not found.

"It's a typical grow that we're seeing nowadays, where they're actually staying here overnight and staying at least three or four days at a time," Lewis said.

"Everyone can admire their work ethic," Douglas said. "They make a home out here in the middle of the woods is very impressive. It's a shame. If they put their talents toward something else there's no telling what they could do."

Lewis had a message for anyone who might consider Fairfield County fertile ground for pot:
"If you plant it, we're going to come."

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff's Office helped with the investigation.

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