Georgia officials went to raid a fish farm. Instead, they found $22.3 million worth of marijuana

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PIERCE COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Agriculture and a sheriff’s office in South Georgia teamed up to make one of the largest drug busts in state history. They found more than 11,000 marijuana plants worth millions of dollars.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach attended a news conference on Tuesday where officials unveiled details about the seizure.

The agriculture department got involved because officials first thought it was a food manufacturing plant. They went in and found something very different, uncovering what may be one of the largest indoor pot growing operations in the Southeast.

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From seedling to full-grown and ready to harvest, 11,153 plants were found inside the marijuana growing facility in rural south Georgia.

“It was a very sophisticated operation,” Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tyler Harper said.

“We estimated the street value to be $22.3 million,” Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said.

The department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Office launched the investigation about a month ago after an undercover deputy learned the facility was a fish farm. But when they raided the place on Friday, they quickly found that was only a cover.

“The sheriff and his team reached out to our law enforcement division to help them investigate that particular facility and because of that, that falls in our jurisdiction,” Harper said.


Officials arrested three men and one woman, all Chinese nationals. They believe the group started the marijuana-growing operation in Pierce County sometime in 2022 with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in the facility.

“What we found was a very high-tech growing operation utilizing lighting and they were watering by hand and had tail water recovery system,” Bennett said.

The sheriff added the department thinks the finished product was shipped out of state and the suspects have ties all the way from New York City to Houston and were possibly part in a much larger drug ring.

The four suspects are in jail without bond with one of them on an immigration hold because he entered the country illegally. All face charges of possession, manufacturing and trafficking.

The investigation is still ongoing and the sheriff’s office says federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency, are now involved.

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