MIDDLE INLET - Five people, all believed to be family members, are in custody tonight after authorities take down what they call a large marijuana operation.
"You've got thousands of plants and as healthy as they look, this is a big operation," said Sheriff Jerry Sauve of the Marinette County Sheriff's Department.
Authorities say they are still looking for two more people involved in the bust that spans two sites in two Marinette County towns.
The two sites were raided Monday night after nearly two months of surveillance.
"This is probably the largest one that I've seen," said Sauve of the alleged operation. "This is substantial, there is no doubt about it."
Court documents show a fisherman tipped off authorities of the first grow site in May. The site spans nearly 40 acres on two County Highway X properties in the Town of Middle Inlet. A logger informed law enforcement of the second site in the Town of Athelstane. It spans 22 acres. Authorities say each site had more than a thousand plants.
"In totality of the Middle Inlet and the Athelstane one, this is probably the most and the biggest plants I've seen," said Sauve.
Court documents reveal 19-year-old Brian Magana and his 45-year-old uncle Manuel Mendoza bought the Middle Inlet properties at the beginning of this year. Magana's father, 51-year-old Javier, owns the Athelstane property.
Court records show all the men live in Green Bay at properties on Doty Street and Deckner Avenue.
The three men were arrested on Monday, along with 38-year-old Marco Magana and Maria Magana-Mendoza.
The suspects appeared in federal court on Tuesday.
Documents show Brian Magana told authorities his family bought the Marinette County land with the purpose of growing marijuana.
"We've seen a number of marijuana grows on public lands, as you are aware in this area," said David Spakowicz with the Department of Justice. "There is a lot of marijuana grows that are eradicated on private property as well. But this is a significant operation, large-scale operation."
Court documents reveal the marijuana plants were five-feet tall, nearly ready for harvest and were intermingled with corn.
"They were near water and the trout stream here," said Sauve. "Getting water from the stream and they were being cared for."
Investigators aren't sure of the value of the plants. They expect to release a total, along with other information once the properties are cleaned up.
The people in custody all face a maximum of life in prison and fines up to $10 million.
Authorities say the two men they are still looking for are not believed to be armed or dangerous.
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