An investigation by several agencies resulted in the seizure of what is being called the largest marijuana growing operation ever found in LeFlore County.
According to an Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesperson, several weeks of investigation culminated Tuesday night after OBN agents, members of the District 16 Drug Task Force, LeFlore County Sheriffâ€™s Department, Poteau Police Department, U.S. Forestry Service, assisted by the County Commission District 3 staff, launched a raid on the operation. One man was arrested and four others fled the location on foot.
Law enforcement personnel converged on a parcel of property on Caney Creek Loop in the Zafra Community and found approximately 4,000 marijuana plants, 100 pounds of processed marijuana and an elaborate watering system.
As of noon Wednesday, members with the U.S. Forestry Service were creating a road to the marijuana patch to help agents recover the plants. The operation appeared to be an intricate maze of rows of marijuana plants lined with a watering system pumped from a nearby above ground swimming pool. The seized plants were packaged and loaded onto a dump truck for transport to a secure evidence facility.
Law enforcement officials told the Poteau Daily News that firearms were also found when they made their arrest.
One of the suspected growers, Normelin Jaimes Benitez, 20, of Mexico was booked into the LeFlore County Detention Center on charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony. According to officers at the scene, the identification of Benitez is pending confirmation. The four suspects who fled are believed to be Mexican nationals.
The bust is expected to be the largest seizure of marijuana to take place in LeFlore County, according to local law enforcement officials. While the bust will go down in the local record books, the take-down of more than 9,000 plants a couple of months ago near Ada remains the largest seizure in state history.