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Friday, May 6, 2016

Military helicopter helps law enforcement spot marijuana crops

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In August, north central Arkansas was buzzing with a military helicopter, which flew to help local and state law enforcement officers look for marijuana crops, ready for harvest.

Sheriff Tate Lawrence said the helicopter, carrying a State Police "spotter," saw a few pot plants growing on an Izard County property, on Monday, Aug. 29.

Izard County Deputies were among law enforcement personnel standing by on the ground, who were sent to investigate.

According to Lawrence, the ground crews found some plants, and evidence that someone had pulled up other plants and tried to burn them with gasoline.

The outdoor marijuana led police to a nearby house, and a large cargo body of a truck -- similar to a moving van -- which had water and electric service running to it.

Lawrence said the search found a "fairly sophisticated in- door growing operation" in the truck body and the house.

Two arrests were made, a man and woman, who lived in the home.

"This case shows that sighting a few plants from the air can lead to larger finds, once ground crews move in," the sheriff said.

According to Lawrence, his office supplied a list of "suspect property" to fly over as part of the marijuana search, and the operation was a totally coordinated event, involving state and local police, as well as Game and Fish wildlife officers.

In a flight over Fulton County, also on Aug. 29, marijuana plants were spotted on two properties on Highway 395, near Moko.

According to Sheriff Buck Foley, "three to five plants" were recovered, when officers on the ground were sent to investigate.

Foley indicated, on Aug. 30, that charges were pending but, at The News' press deadline, no further details had been released.

On Aug. 31, the marijuana eradication effort moved to Sharp County.

Helicopter fly overs led to the discovery of 23 marijuana plants on two properties, one in Evening Shade and one in Ash Flat. Two people were charged with drug offenses.

The marijuana eradication team found Stone County to be the area's most popular spot for outdoor marijuana cultivation.

Working over several days in early August, investigators discovered an estimated 20,000 marijuana plants by air.

Most of the illegal plants were being grown in remote areas of the mountainous county.

Ground crews had to use all-terrain vehicles and, sometimes, hike in, to reach growing sites.

According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, it took three days to remove the illegal plants, "due to the rough terrain, dispersed locations and the large number of marijuana plants."

The Arkansas National Guard, State Police, Game and Fish Commission and Drug Enforcement Administration assist sheriff's departments in the yearly eradication effort across the state.

As this year's program shows, growing large fields of marijuana is not as common in the Ozarks as it once was. Law enforcement is finding most large marijuana growing operations have moved in-doors, where detection is more difficult.

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Just curious... since the article specifies it was a military helo the ops-cost probably came out of the DoD budget. True?

Surely not any of the specified county's General Operating Funds? I didn't see any helos but I heard what I took to be single-rotor flying around. A UH-1H: $835/hour, a Huey II, $535. But if it was a UH-60 Blackhawk: $2,199.


I suppose the man-hour costs of these sorts of ops can be judged reasonable and justified - depending on what "the takedown" was. If it was minimal, mark it on the ledgers as 'training' but I know Congress has got a crack team of 12 guys looking to cut a few trillion bucks from everything but the Defense budget.

Got any idea Mr. Irby how many plants were eradicated, and what the costs/benefits ratio was? Of course it's too early to figure in whatever the prison incarcerations [if any] are gonna accrue.

You know how serious them Washington DC "Spending Eradicators" can be when they're on the hunt.

-- Posted by HDucker on Thu, Sep 8, 2011, at 7:33 PM

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