Tomato vines. (PD/USDA)
A small, sustainable organic farm in South Arlington, Texas was raided by a SWAT team in search of marijuana, and all they found were vegetables.
Arlington police and city Code Enforcement officers raided The Garden of Eden and the six adults who live and work of the farm were handcuffed while officers searched the property for drugs.
Police say handcuffs were removed within 30 minutes, and tactical officers left the premises within 45, but the raid itself lasted some 10 hours according to the Garden of Eden website.
"We live a very peaceful life here,” said 30-year-old resident Quinn Eaker, who was arrested during the raid for an unrelated warrant outstanding over unpaid parking tickets.
"We've never hurt anybody," Eaker said. "This is our land. We have the right to be secure in our person and our property. Period. That's undebatable."
According to the search warrant, an undercover narcotics agent had visited the farm to investigate an anonymous tip that Eaker was growing marijuana in a garden surrounded by bamboo.
A Texas Department of Public Safety aircraft conducted aerial surveillance of the Garden of Eden property on July 30, according to the warrant. Photographs of the garden surrounded by bamboo, police stated in the warrant, were "consistent with marijuana."
But they were tomatoes.
"They can't even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel; that's just really bad intel," Eaker said. "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."
While code enforcement reported finding violations including high weeds and grass and standing water, police did not uncover any marijuana plants anywhere on the property. According to investigators, there are no food handler permits on file for the property or its residents.
Code compliance officers mowed the property and removed wild and cultivated plants including blackberries and okra. Officers also confiscated pallets, tires and cardboard that the members said they repurposed and reused for various projects.
"We had mass amounts of materials taken,” Eaker said. “If you saw the list, it's pages and pages and pages of materials taken. That wasn't junk. That wasn't trash."
Eaker and the other residents of the farm are demanding an apology from police and compensation for damage to their property during the raid.