Five Biggest Illegal Pot Grows in Recent History

It’s tempting to get off the grid and enjoy nature every once and awhile, but if you’re considering a grow operation then think again.

Illegal pot grows are discovered by the park service on a fairly regular basis in North America. These massive fields often have campsites complete with processing stations, dining areas and toilets. It’s enough to make you want to go camping – unless the growers are packing automatic weapons.

According to the DEA most of the black market weed in the US is grown by Mexican drug cartels in remote parts of the wilderness. Authorities claim this is a serious problem during droughts because the growers illegally divert water from agriculture and Indian reservations in order to water their crops.

For every responsible citizen that purchases MMJ there is at least one who must use underground resources such as illegal pot grows. Either they are suspicious of regulated weed, or they live in a state with strict laws concerning marijuana.

Stealing water from American Indians is a dick move. Not to mention the years in Federal prison these farmers face. The legalization of cannabis, while scary and new, discourages illegal grows in national parks.

5. Wallowa Whitman National Forest, Oregon – 91,000 plants


In 2012 authorities found 91,000 marijuana plants growing in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. Miles of irrigation tubing connected a network of separate pods disguised by the trees. Investigators said that in the process the suspects used hundreds of pounds of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that caused severe damage to the Wildcat Creek riparian area. The six men behind the operation pleaded guilty and received prison terms of various lengths.

4. Polk County, Texas – 147,227 plants


A Texas deer hunter got a shock in July 2014 when he stumbled across over 100,000 marijuana plants near Goodrich. In total 29 federal authorities counted 29 pot fields about 65 miles outside of Houston. “There were some tents and homemade irrigation, said Captain Rickie Childers of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, “These were handheld pumps taking water from the creek.” It was the second biggest grow in Texas history after a bust of 147,227 plants last year.

3. Obion County, Tennessee – 300,000 plants

obion county pot bust

The Obion County Sheriff’s Department discovered about 300,000 plants growing on private property in Tennessee during 2011. Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder told the press that it covered a five-mile square area. It left me speechless,” said the sheriff, “The area is just so remote. The owner had no idea.” In addition to the pot, the Sheriff’s found kitchens, showers, tunnels and thousands of pounds curing in the sun. The plants were valued at about $400 million.

2. Fresno, California – 330,000 plants

fresno pot bust

Farmers in California’s Central Valley routinely find illegal weed grows in their own fields. In July 2009, local, state and federal authorities launched Operation Save Our Sierra to deal with the growing problem in Fresno County. The sparsely populated county is the size of Connecticut and difficult territory to control. At least 82 arrests were made in connection to 330,000 marijuana plants. Many of the suspects had ties to Mexican drug cartels.

1. Baja California, Mexico – 300 acres of plants

baja pot bust

The largest illegal marijuana plantation in Mexican history was located about 150 miles south of Tijuana. During a flyby over the California Baja Desert the Mexican Defense Department sighted 300-acres of marijuana plants concealed by a massive black tarpaulin. Local farmers often use such shade cloth to protect their crops from the sun, so it was not immediately obvious what was underneath. The total value of the plants was estimated at 1.8 billion pesos or $160 million.


Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives in the war on drugs in Mexico and Central America since the 1980s. Mexican drug cartels have a long history of bloody violence frequented by decapitation, shoot outs, rampant corruption and gang wars.

This year alone nearly 100,000 minors will be picked up at the border as they attempt to flee the violence.

Support grassroots marijuana activists, don’t let them get too full of themselves because they’re burners and follow @blackbettyblog on Twitter.

Posted by blackbettyblog

Elizabeth de Moya has a BA in Linguistics from UC Berkeley. She has contributed to DJ Mag, DJ TechTools, LA Weekly and Thump (Vice). Check out the new women's street fashion and music blog for people that love EDM and music festivals:!

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