Garden of Eden Raid: Texas Garden Owners Want Apology, Compensation for Wrongful Raid

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
August 15, 2013 Updated: August 15, 2013

Owners and residents of the Garden of Eden in Arlington, Texas want an apology from the city and compensation for what was taken from them after a SWAT team confiscated tons of plants under the belief that the farm was growing marijuana.

Intelligence, including an undercover officer, led local police to believe that marijuana was being grown on the farm. A raid conducted on the garden  on August 2 ended with all adults being handcuffed and tons of plants confiscated by police.

But it turns out there is no marijuana on the property.

“I think they were hoping that was true, and I think that they made a mistake, and I think that they know they made a mistake,” Quinn Eaker, a resident, told NBC.

“They can’t even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel, right? That’s just really bad intel.”

Shellie Smith, owner of the garden, said in a statement that the city “conducted a violent raid on innocent people, costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in trumped up charges, proven to be false,” and the raid included no search warrant and over an hour of being held at gunpoint with automatic weapons.

They want compensation for what was taken from them and want an apology from the city.

The city says that they had cited the garden for a range of violations, including high weeds and stagnant water. The garden has been cited for 10 code violations which equal $3,600 in potential fines, according to WFAA.

Police officers said that they stand by their actions.

Two warrants were served at the same time during the raid–one dealing with the code violations, the other from the police department to explore “what it believed to be an elaborate marijuana operation,” according to the Arlington Voice. The latter came after months of surveillance from the department’s Narcotics Unit.

Part of the reason they thought so was an online search of the garden’s website which talks about “uber dank culinary artistry” and uses the word “high” multiple times to describe it. The unit flew a helicopter over the property, during which time a detective thought he spotted a 30-by-30 square foot area that appeared to have marijuana plants growing within it. The affidavit says that that detective is “credible and reliable” and has spotted more than 100,000 plants during his 17 year career.

An anonymous tip that said there was marijuana being grown on the property as well as rifles and a pistol helped get the search warrant from the judge.

Sgt. Christopher Cook said that the adults were initially handcuffed but after 30 minutes they were freed and allowed to about their daily business. 

“Deployment of our tactical team is very common when serving a narcotics search warrant so that the location can be secured quickly for narcotics detectives to safely enter the property,” said Cook. “Once it was determined that area didn’t include marijuana we stopped the narcotics search even though the warrant authorized a search of the entire premises.”

Among the 20,420 pounds of items listed in the affidavit as removed were 24 tires which were pooling stagnant water, piles of rotting vegetables and meat, and mounds of debris.

The garden is situated on three acres.

Arlington is between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Eaker said that unless the police department makes “rightful, justful amends” a lawsuit will be filed against them, to which the department had no conduct.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.