Less than a mile off a county road in Ivanhoe near the Black River, federal drug agents and local authorities found exactly what their informant had promised.
"We saw what looked like, as far as you could see, marijuana plants," said Drug Enforcement Administration agent Michael Franklin.
There were about 2,400 in all, surrounded by a makeshift camp where the growers had illegally squatted on private property, setting up a generator and pump to tap the river for irrigation. The camp, which had been recently inhabited, contained a tarp shelter, canned fuel, drinking water, toiletries and old clothing, some of it camouflage.
Authorities staked out the "grow" for two days waiting for the marijuana farmers to return. They didn't. It was just as well, Franklin said.
"The people we were really focusing on were not the guys tending the field. The guys bankrolling the field were the target," he said.
Those guys, according to the DEA's source, were members of La Familia Michoacana, a Mexican drug cartel that the Justice Department says focuses primarily on moving heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine into the southeastern and southwestern United States. Read more.....