$15 Million in Marijuana Found in National Forest


Another large-scale marijuana growing operation has been found in the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest. The bust in Oconto County has netted seven arrests and plants worth $15 million.

It is the third time in three years police have raided this kind of sophisticated and large scale marijuana grow in the national forest. A trout fisherman found these latest sites earlier this summer in the northwest portion of Oconto County. Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation Administrator Ed Wall says agents have eradicated 15,000 plants so far. Although he could not comment on the nationality of the seven suspects in custody, Wall says they are likely part of an international drug trafficking organization.”They were all Hispanic males; some of them we know have direct ties to Mexico.”

Suzanne Flory is a representative for the U.S. Forest Service, which oversees the Wisconsin’s National forest land. She says this year’s grow sites were unique. “In the past the sites have been a couple acres of clearings. These sites are smaller, maybe 50 feet long in some cases, some cases smaller, and there are just more of them spotted along the south branch of the Oconto River”

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Flory says the Forest Service expects to find more grow sites within the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest in the future but that should not deter people from enjoying it. However, she says the public needs to be wary and report unusual activity. “All of the sites we’ve found so far on the national forest, we have found with the help of the public tipping us off to things that seemed out of place.”

Around 150 law enforcement agents from 15 federal, state, tribal and local agencies assisted in the investigation.