Helicopter with agents repelling to a marijuana patch in a rugged area near Hartford, TN (Courtesy: Cocke Co. Sheriff's Office)
Sheriff Armando Fontes at the Hall residence shortly after pulling plants and collecting 2.5 cases of moonshine. (Courtesy: Cocke Co. Sheriff's Office)
(WBIR-Cocke County) Authorities uncovered more than 1,700 marijuana plants over the past four days, with a street value of more than $170,000.
The Cocke County Sheriff's Office, the Governor's Task Force for Marijuana Eradication and the DEA uncovered more than 50 marijuana plants, a 200 gallon active moonshine still, and more than two cases of moonshine at a property on Justin Road in Del Rio. Officials said the property belonged to Jack Hall, and the marijuana was four to six feet tall.
"Moonshine, you know, it's a totally different issue. We do not run into a lot of moonshine like we used to," said Sheriff Armando Fontes. "Generally, when it comes to dealing with moonshine, we end up stumbling on it through a drug investigation."
Officials also found and destroyed marijuana plants found in various location in Cocke County. In some very rugged areas, the Tennessee Highway Patrol special operations unit rappelled from a helicopter to destroy the plants.
"Marijuana is very easy to spot from the air because it has a very distinct color to it that is not native to the natural plant environment in our area," the sheriff added.
Authorities plan to present the collected evidence before a grand jury. It is currently in possession of the task force in Nashville, where both the marijuana and moonshine will be disposed of.
Sheriff Fontes said arrests are pending.
"Anytime you can take $170,000-worth of illegal narcotics off the street, that's a major accomplishment," Sheriff Fontes said.