For about an hour, 3,104 marijuana plants were burned then buried “at an undisclosed location” Oct. 13.

“It didn’t burn well because it’s green and it’s wet,” Sheriff Scott Southerland said. But they got enough of a fire going to do the job, he said.

Once the smoke started to drift to neighboring houses, officers covered up the smoldering plants.

“It’s well contaminated,” Southerland said. “If anybody wanted to dig through the 3 feet of dirt and get to it, it wouldn’t have much value to them.”

The plants were seized after a tip led officers to a heavily wooded, rural area in southern Brown County on Oct. 10. It was near State Road 135 South and Mt. Nebo Road.

It took eight deputies and conservation officers four hours to cut down and haul all of the plants to the Law Enforcement Center. They filled three pickup trucks and multiple trash bags.

The street value was more than $1 million, according to the sheriff’s department.

Southerland said the growers are most likely tied to a larger drug trafficking organization, the same people responsible for bringing other drugs, such as heroin and meth, into the country.

Drug trafficking organizations will finance large-scale growing operations such as this one to reduce the risk of having to smuggle marijuana across the border and transporting it to its final destination, Southerland reported.

He said it was apparent that people had been camping in the area. He would not elaborate on what items were found at the scene but did confirm the items had Spanish on them.

Speculation has pinned responsibility on a “Mexican drug cartel,” but Southerland said that is only speculation, not fact.

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.