Authorities in Cherokee County have uncovered more than 15,000 marijuana plants growing in a field near the banks of the Angelina River south of FM-343.

On Thursday August 30, 2012 Cherokee County Investigators met with Texas DPS narcotics officers, DEA agents and Texas National Guard personnel for routine DME flights over Cherokee County.

At approximately 2:45pm, the crew on board a DPS helicopter located a possible site near the banks of the Angelina River approximately 1.5 miles south of FM-343, which is on the Eastern boarder of the County.

The ground crews were notified and discovered a very large marijuana plant operation spanning several patches. The marijuana plants ranged in size from 12 inches to 8 feet in height. The site was set up with an irrigation system from generators and water pumps from the river, and fully equipped camping sites for the workers to live on site and cultivate the marijuana.

Although no one was caught on the property when the ground crews arrived, indications were that there were workers present at the time the helicopter located the first patch and the time the ground crews arrived. Firearms and ammunition were also found stashed in various locations around the patches and camp site.

As of Friday at 7:30am, only the first of 4 patches had been removed by Investigators, yielding over 7,500 plants. Unless more patches are located throughout the day, this grow operation is expected to be a total count of 15,000 to 20,000 plants.

More details will be available after the operation is completed.