Local News

2,500 illegal pot plants seized by police

RITZVILLE, Wash. - 2,500 illegal pot plants growing out in the open on a property near Ritzville were seized by law enforcement Thursday.

A narcotics detective on scene told KXLY each plant is the equivalent of about 1,000 joints.

But now, that illegally grown marijuana will never make it to the streets.

In Thursday's 100 degree heat, the smell on the property quickly gave away what was growing here.

"We would call it harvesting, we're taking them away," said Adams County Sheriff Dale Wagner as the group was pulling out the plants and loading them onto a semi-truck to be taken away and destroyed.

"[We] came out here and found what we found," Sheriff Wagner said. "Approximately 2,500 plants is our estimate at this point."The plants were hidden from the road by some corn and fencing, but someone noticed the operation.

Sheriff Wagner says a resident in the area tipped law enforcement off to this grow late last week.

"We did some further investigation and found out it's not legal to be here," Sheriff Wagner said. "Through that investigation, we found out that it was a pretty large scale."

On Thursday morning, with a search warrant in hand, multiple agencies including the Adams County Sheriff's Office, Ritzville Police Department, and the Inter-agency Narcotics Enforcement Team detained three people. The rest of the day was spent confiscating the plants.

"We're pulling out every one of the plants and we're loading up that big rig right there," Sheriff Wagner said.

Sheriff Wagner says this is the largest illegal operation he's come across."We have [found operations] in smaller clusters here and there through corn fields and things like that, but not at this magnitude and scale," he said.

Detectives told KXLY the plants were "high quality" and each one of them would be about two to three pounds dried.

Sheriff Wagner says people in the community reporting tips like this help them help the public.

"We're here to help and solve these issues and help the communities keep control of what's going on around them," he said.This investigation is just beginning, but for the people responsible for this operation,

"[With] this magnitude, more than likely [they are] looking at a lot of consequences."Once they finished loading up the truck full of the marijuana, the Sheriff said it will be destroyed, likely by incineration.

Washington has regulations on growing pot, and it is now a revenue maker for the state. Legal growers pay taxes. The state reports it collected just under $30 million in July 2017 in marijuana tax revenue.