Several fields of large marijuana plants were discovered Thursday afternoon in Fairfield County.
Just after 3 p.m. a SLED helicopter unit noticed a marijuana growth in rural Fairfield County.
One person was seen running away from the field and the helicopter tried to maintain visual contact with the individual; however dense vegetation made that impossible. Bloodhounds were called in, but law enforcement was unable to locate the suspect.
The 631 marijuana plants were discovered and destroyed. Officers had to use a bulldozer to access the site which was about 2.5 miles off of Highway 321 South off of Cowhorn Road. The site consisted of one large field and four smaller fields of plants.
Fairfield County Chief Deputy Sheriff Keith Lewis said that this field was typical of marijuana grows that are found nationwide. The premises off Cowhorn Road included multiple camp sites where individuals could live for at least three to four days at a time. It also contained large, mature plants that were ready for harvest.
“These were some of the largest plants I’ve ever seen,” Lewis said. 631 plants were discovered at the site, though early estimates were much higher. The plants were large enough that they covered the area that typically could hold 2,500 plants.”
When asked about the discovery and eradication boosting morale among narcotics officers, Lewis responded that while it is good to have gotten the drugs off of the street, law enforcement wants to make arrests as well.
This is the second major drug eradication operation in Fairfield County this summer.
Lewis said the Drug Enforcement Agency is helping investigate these cases. He was unable to say if the two cases indicated a local trend in drug production, but did note that Fairfield County is a large county with lots of available hunting land from which individuals could try to cultivate drugs.
“We don’t want to see it planted anywhere. If you do plant it (here) we will come (find you),” he said.
A machete and two BB guns were found on the scene in addition to the plants.
The SLED officers were returning to Columbia from a drug eradication operation in Chester County when the Fairfield County fields were discovered. The operation was a combined effort of the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department, Newberry County Sheriff’s Department, SLED, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the South Carolina Forestry Commission, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. In addition to the other law enforcement agencies, Lewis thanked forestry officials for their efforts all summer long to help dispose of seized marijuana plants throughout South Carolina.