Claiborne Co. deputies burn 300 pot plants, still working toward arrest

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Authorities in Claiborne County say they're hitting drug dealers where it hurts -- right in their pocketbooks.

Deputies are still investigating who could be responsible for the 300 pot plants found in the Leatherwood area during a scouting trip Wednesday. No arrests have been made.

Thursday that marijuana, worth nearly $300,000 on the street, went up in smoke as our cameras stood by.

"This is one of the best ways we can fight crime is to kept the availability down," said Lt. Stephen Hurley.

Wednesday Claiborne County deputies, with the help of Knox County Sheriff's Office and its helicopter, tracked down more than 300 plants.

"We landed the helicopter probably 75 to 100 yards away from the actual patch. Walked in from that point," he said.

Through briar thicket, the team pulled out the plants and brought them here to burn. Now they're trying to find who's responsible.

"We're in the process of researching the maps to find out exactly who's property this was on," he said.

Even then, an arrest isn't likely. It's a problem they often face when searching for drugs from the sky.

"The statistics are probably one in 10, that's why people are willing to risk it. It is very difficult to catch them, and prosecute these types of cases."

Hurley says they'll try their hardest, and have been successful in the past. But unless more evidence is found, the punishment is often simply money pulled right out of a dealer's pocket.

"We've definitely ruined someone's day by removing this income from them."

And the deputies' reward? More drugs off your streets. Hurley says these type searches will continue until the first frost as plants mature.

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