Law enforcement officials say they don't ever recall seizing that much marijuana in Sullivan County. As our Christian Farrell tells us, the two day pot bust was one for the record books.
SULLIVAN COUNTY, N.Y. -- It was a drug distribution operation of massive proportions according to authorities.
"It's the largest homegrown operation I've seen in my 33 years," said Sullivan County Sheriff Michael Schiff.
Sixteen people were handcuffed and led out of the Sullivan County Jail in Monticello for operating marijuana growing houses in seven different locations throughout the county. Law enforcement officials, though, busted up the pot growing ring during a two day raid which concluded Wednesday, seizing more than 7,000 plants.
"It was generated by a vehicle and traffic stop. It just happened we had our people working with the DEA in the area from some previous home grow operations we had," Schiff said.
It's estimated the marijuana seized has a street value of more than $10 million.
A short distance from one of the alleged grow houses in Wurtsboro, local residents were in shock.
Authorities say all seven growing houses were located in very secluded areas, like this one down the road in the Town of Mamakating. And all of them they say contained highly sophisticated equipment.
"Extremely big time. I believe linked to organized crime. This was not a simple home grow where somebody decided they were going start a hobby and grow a little marijuana in their house," Schiff said.
Authorities say the majority of those arrested are illegal aliens from South and Central America who now face federal drug charges for manufacturing, possessing and distributing marijuana.