MARINETTE COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) - We're learning more about a major marijuana bust in Marinette County. More than 60 agencies netted millions of dollars worth of marijuana on two sophisticated growing operations. One was in Middle Inlet and one was in Athelstane. Tips from fishermen and loggers led investigators to find the plants.
Police are keeping more than 2,400 marijuana plants as evidence. That's just a fraction of what was discovered at two separate grow sites last week.
"At 13,000 plants, we have $13 million worth of marijuana those grows were capable of producing," said David Spakowicz, an investigator with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen called it a significant amount of drugs being kept off the streets.
"These plants were healthy, they were close to harvest," Van Hollen explained. "This was a significant grow and that is a huge number of plants, higher than we would take off under most circumstances."
Officials said two suspects are still on the loose, but five others have already been arrested and indicted on federal drug charges. Van Hollen said he's not sure just how many people are involved.
The penalties on the federal level are steep.
"They face mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration of ten years in the federal system," he added.
Van Hollen hopes this will act as a deterrent to criminals, as well as a call to action by the community to report anything suspicious they come across in the woods.
"If it were not for the fact that they were conscious enough to call law enforcement and report what they saw," said Van Hollen of the sportsmen who tipped off police. "None of us in law enforcement would have been able to succeed in doing what we have to date, and hopefully in the future which will be a successful prosecution of these individuals."
The Attorney General's office handled a similar type of bust last summer in Sawyer County. More than 9,000 marijuana plants were found in the Chequamegon National Forest. Six people are now each serving ten years in prison for that operation.