CAIRO, Ga. — A husband and wife surrendered to law enforcement earlier this week after agents with the Grady County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit uncovered a massive marijuana cultivation operation from inside their home.

Drug Unit commander Chris Luckey said the marijuana growth operation run by Louis Clark Deal, 62, and his wife Rita Faye Deal, also 62, from their Two States Lane residence was one of the largest operations discovered by law enforcement in the area in some time. Drug agents, assisted by the Georgia State Patrol and Governor’s Task Force/Drug Suppression (GTF), seized more than 19 pounds of marijuana from a total of 21 plants located indoors and outdoors in a search warrant executed May 14, and efforts were quickly made to issue warrants for the arrest of both suspects on charges of trafficking marijuana and possession of drug-related objects.

The Deals’ attorney arranged for them to voluntarily surrender at the Grady County Sheriff’s Office on Monday morning. The suspects were booked shortly after 9 a.m. on charges of trafficking marijuana and possession of drug-related objects and appeared in court for an arraignment later that day.

Investigators believe the suspects were alerted to the search warrant by a neighbor and told to stay away — an act that Luckey said could potentially be an obstruction of an investigation. Authorities attempted to obtain statements from the Deals’ neighbors as to who may have informed the suspects of police presence, but those efforts were not met with success.

“Unfortunately we may never know,” Luckey said.

Evidence of an outdoor marijuana growth operation was first detected by a GTF helicopter conducting a routine flyover of the area May 14. The sheriff’s office was contacted after GTF agents identified what they believed to be marijuana plants growing in the Deals’ backyard. Drug Unit agents arrived at the site and established a probable cause for a search warrant, which was executed at 4:04 p.m.

Once inside, investigators uncovered an indoor grow house, multiple containers of processed marijuana, a room inside the residence purposed for processing and packing marijuana and tools for processing marijuana including grinders and scales. Authorities say the most surprising find, however, was an outdoor shed which housed a water filtration system used to maintain marijuana plants, complete with an air conditioning system and heat reduction fans. Investigators say the room’s sole purpose was to manufacture marijuana.

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