BEN WHEELER, TX (KLTV) - Authorities found a marijuana farm covering hundreds of acres along the banks of the Neches River near Ben Wheeler off Van Zandt County Road 4931.
It began as a routine search for a few rogue marijuana plants.
"Gonna secure those areas make sure there's no booby traps," explained Constable Pat Jordan.
But a few plants quickly turned into a few thousand.
"This is what's spread all over the area," said the constable. "I've never seen a field this size."
Led by Jordan, they found many small pockets of marijuana plants spread through 200 acres of deep woods.
"Every one of those you see probably produced a pound," he explained.
Early estimates say close to 20,000 plants were grown. Ballpark figures put the estimated street value close to $10,000,000.
"This is what they put the seedlings in you'll notice it's a little bit longer than normal so you're root will be longer makin' it a little healthier when you put it in the ground," said Jordan.
Signs led law enforcement to believe the farming was commercial, close to $50,000 worth of irrigation equipment, tents and other equipment.
Authorities estimate a crew of 50 farmers watched over the plants. Living in shelters like this for the entire six month season, they took care of the plants protecting them at any cost.
"Ammo boxes of ammunition to be used with a firearm and then cans that they were target practicing with," he said.
With thousands of plants to count, the team continued to work.
"[We are] feeling pretty hopeless right now to be honest...but if the police give up we're all in trouble," he said.
It is a last line of defense in a war that may never end.