Courts & Crime

Texas seized record marijuana crop

The growing season is over, and Texas officials say they reaped a record crop in at least one agricultural area: marijuana.

Law enforcement agencies seized nearly 62,000 pot plants in 2009, the most ever eradicated in Texas, said Duane Steen of the Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division. The biggest operations were uncovered in North Texas.

In 2008, the eradication program, funded by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, seized 36,280 plants. In 2007, 40,172 plants were seized.

Oklahoma officials seized 65,444 plants from 145 plots, said Mark Woodard of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. More than 30,000 of those were from one operation spread out over miles of the Kaimichi Mountains in eastern Oklahoma. It was one of the largest marijuana operations ever found in the state, he said.

What stands out about the pot fields discovered this year is the growers' increasing sophistication, officials said.

"These were big organized grows," Steen said. "These weren't just people growing a little marijuana. These were highly organized with somebody finding the property and then setting up growing and distribution operations.

"We've had several different types of groups behind these grows. We’ve had an Asian group in Dallas and some others related to cartels in Mexico. Some others are still under investigation, but we know these were organized groups," Steen said.

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