with Ty Wansley
Sundays 6am - 8am
Miss Sunday's show? Check out the Chicago Speaks Podcast.
October 3, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Police officers in a helicopter discovered about two football fields worth of marijuana plants, estimated to be worth about $7 million to $10 million, on the city's Far South Side.
The six-foot plants were planted in rows in a heavily vegetative area near Stony Island near 107th Street, which caught the eye of Cook County Sheriff's Department Tactical Officer Edward Graney, helicopter copilot, on Tuesday night.
"We had the right altitude, the right angle, the right sunlight, and I just happened to be glancing down, saw the hole in the tree line, saw what appeared to be maybe five plants," Officer Graney said.
"I dropped down, I flew a little bit lower so we could get a better look. We used an imaging camera, took some pictures and some video, and determined this sure, indeed, looks like marijuana plants," Chicago Police Officer Stan Kuprianczyk, helicopter pilot, said.
"This would not be visible from the street. It's surrounded by a huge field that you wouldn't see anywhere from the air," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
"This is the largest outdoor grow that we know of in the recent history of Chicago," Roti O'Grady, Chicago Police Department, said.
Officials say the plants were days to weeks from harvest. "The guess is these were probably planted in the spring," McCarthy said.
On Wednesday morning, police officers on the ground found about 1,500 plants on the site.
"We guided his team into his location," Edward Graney said.
Three trucks were sent to the site to transfer the plant to a facility where a control burn will take place, McCarthy said. "At this point it's obviously still under investigation."
Officials say they also found a couple sleeping bags and some food on site.
"There was a small encampment. We believe somebody was guarding this site," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the bust goes further than just seizing marijuana plants -- it helps to reduce the violence by "putting the squeeze on these organizations."
"Whoever harvests this marijuana is obviously running a large-scale operation, and at the same time the profits of which will be used to purchase firearms. And that's where the violence comes in- is the competition for the markets."