According to officials at the Bureau of Forestry, the largest cannabis grow operation to ever be discovered in a Pennsylvania forest was revealed deeply within the Tuscarora State Forest. 1,000 cannabis plants were found to be growing very much illegally after law enforcement received a tip from area fishermen. The tips that officials received, paired with the photographs taken from trail cameras, led to the arrest of a couple from Juniata County.
Tuscarora State Forest expands for 96,025 acres through Cumberland, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, and Perry counties.
Jeremy and Erin Leach, 37 and 35 respectively, were arrested after evidence was found during a search of their home on June 29th. So far, neither of them has been charged with any crimes related to the site in Tuscarora State Forest.
Rangers who searched the residence found what they called an “extensive grow operation,” in addition to a host of handguns, shotguns and rifles. Notebooks containing details on grow operations were found, as well as a map of the state forest that was tacked onto an upstairs wall.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees the forest, the investigation began in August of 2015 after a ranger discovered a cannabis growing garden in Bratton Township of Mifflin County. When this site and three others were discovered-possessing a total of 150 plants that averaged five feet in height-law enforcement eradicated the gardens and set up cameras.
Back then, the cameras had caught two images of a man in camouflage gear but no arrests were made. In March and April of 2017, two grow sites were discovered-again in Bratton Township. There were no actual cannabis plants at the sites, but trees had been cut down to make room for an impending harvest. When cameras were set up at one of these areas in April, footage captured images of the same camo-clad man numerous times.
When Erin and Jeremy Leach were arrested, Jeremy stated that the cannabis was for his own personal use. Erin said that she had no knowledge of the grow operation at all.
Photo by Nicholas_T