July 20, 2006
Louisa County Sheriffs made a huge marijuana bust yesterday confiscating 352 marijuana plants but how much of a problem is growing and selling pot in our area?
Investigators tell us yesterday's bust was significant and that they believe they made a dent in the marijuana trade, but that the fight is ongoing.
“If you have a remote location or you have the know how it can be fairly easy to grow this stuff,” said Major Don Lowe of the Louisa County Sheriff’s dept.
Outlying counties make perfect farming ground for pot growers. And while investigators have had success spotting marijuana fields from the air, they say criminals are growing smarter.
“They've gotten it down to a science at this point,” said Lowe.
Take the man sheriffs arrested yesterday. He had an elaborate system for growing pot. Starting with seeds, he potted plants inside his home.
“If you are growing inside the home you have to have temperature control, you have to have humidity and the right nourishment for the plants,” said Lowe.
In just six or seven weeks sun lamps and miracle grow helped sprout these plants to 15 feet in height. To tall to keep indoors the grower replanted the trees on his 30 acre property and set up an irrigation system. But once criminals move their operation outdoors, spotters can easily locate the plants from the sky.
“You'll notice the color is a whole lot different and it’s real easy to spot from the air,” said Lowe.
That's why many criminals have found a way to grow the plants strictly indoors.
“They do what we call topping. Where they trim the tops of the plants to keep them from growing no more than two or three feet tall but they may be six or seven foot wide,” said Lowe
When the plants are that big there is not only the danger of arrest but the smell is overbearing and the growing equipment could spark a fire, a risk criminals take apparently for the pay off. One plant can yield $2500 on the streets.
Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in the state of Virginia but how many people are illegally growing it, is hard to say. Investigators say they just know there are more people out there and it's a constant battle to find and arrest all of them.
And as for the man Louisa sheriffs arrested yesterday. He could face a federal trial if all that pot confiscated yesterday meets the federal weight requirements.