It might not get the attention it used to, but law enforcement officials said marijuana is still the biggest cash crop in the state.
Deputies said they got the tip from a truck driver who saw two men searching through the woods on ATV’s in the Viper community of Perry County ended in what they called a fairly large raid.
Weed, cannabis, marijuana or pot, known by many names, law enforcement officials said it is a serious business for some Kentuckians.
“I referred to it earlier today as old school dope,” said Perry County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Eversole.
Eversole said he encountered much more of the drug in Appalachia years ago before the pill problem escalated in the region.
“I think marijuana is still the number one crop in Kentucky, but it is not at the levels that it used to be,” said Eversole.
Deputies in Perry County received a tip that resulted in the recovery of 32 plants.
“The state asks us to evaluate it at one thousand dollars a plant when it is close to maturity,” said Eversole.
The plants had an estimated street value of more than $30,000.
“Once we bundled it, the bundle weighed close to fifty pounds,” said Deputy Elmer Fugate.
Fugate and Eversole said the recovery of the plants can be risky.
“The danger to the officer is of course the booby trap fields, someone guarding the field,” said Eversole.
“We used to see fish hooks hanging from trees, but you don’t really see that anymore.”
Fugate said many who harvest guard the precious plants with their life.
“When you stumble on some body's patch, a lot of drug dealer's this is their livelihood so they are going to try to protect it,” said Fugate.
“In one instance they had snakes tied to some of the plants.”
Fugate said one Kentucky State Trooper was bitten by a poisonous snake that was tied to a plant and ended up losing a finger.
Fugate said the plants found in Viper were premature, standing about five and a half feet tall. Eversole said in more than two decades of law enforcement, he has seen some fully grown plants which stood anywhere from 16 to 18 feet tall. Both said the value of the plant increases as it grows.
“The buds, what they make their money off of, I have seen grow to be twelve to fourteen inches long,” said Eversole.
Because no arrests were made, deputies destroyed the plants with the help of volunteer firefighters.
Deputies said they are investigating leads into who was growing the plants.