Up in smoke: Authorities eradicate 1,100 marijuana plants



PDT Staff Writer

Members of the Scioto County Drug Task Force, consisting of the Portsmouth Police, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol and members of the Special Response Team at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, cut some 1,100 marijuana plants with a street value of $1.1 million over a two-day period Monday and Wednesday.

“That’s a pretty good haul,” Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said, pointing at the truckload of pot. “We don’t normally come up with that much. They are about $1,000 a plant.”

“We perform the eradication program annually,” Donini said. “BCI&I (Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation) actually brings a helicopter down. Not just in our county. They do it throughout the state. They have a pilot along with a spotter, somebody who has a lot of experience spotting it in the air. They actually look for the plant itself because it has a different color from most vegetation. Then there’s other things they look for.”

Donini said he doesn’t have figures as to how much an eradication of that size affects street drug traffic.

“It affects it to a certain point,” Donini said. “This is homegrown stuff. How much of it would actually hit the street depends on how motivated the grower was. You would think that he would come back and get it. It’s hard to tell how much it affects the trafficking, because there are others that buy the different types of marijuana that is not homegrown.”

Donini said what they do with the marijuana depends on the depth of the case.

“It depends on whether or not they have any evidence and probable cause as to who is actually growing it.” Donini said. “If they have reason to believe they know who it is, they might hang on to it and send it to BCI&I and get it weighed and get it tested. That way they can have those results for the court case. But if there’s no suspects involved they’ll actually destroy it. They’ll probably destroy it this evening by burning it.”

Donini said southern Ohio usually yields more marijuana during eradication efforts than other parts of the state.

“All of the southern counties normally yield more,” Donini said. “I don’t know if it’s the terrain to where it’s more hilly. Sometimes they actually try to hide it in corn rows, but this year we have not had much rain which makes it kind of odd that we got this much this year.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com


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