Pubdate: Sat, 03 Jul 2004
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2004sThe Advertiser Co.
Author: Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser


No arrests are made as 60 marijuana plants are found in Autauga County 
Department of Public Safety and Alabama National Guard helicopters buzzed 
above Autauga County on Thursday and Friday looking for marijuana plots and 
found drugs with a street value of about $120,000.

The effort bagged about 60 plants, with each plant having a street value at 
maturity of $2,000-$2,500.

The seizures netted no arrests.

The choppers searched the county in coordination with ground teams. The 
Marijuana Eradication Program is a statewide effort to find the illegal 
weed before it hits the streets.

Clay Davis pulled his pickup off Alabama 14 near Autaugaville and watched a 
helicopter circle a pine tree plantation Friday afternoon.

"I've talked to those boys who fly looking for dope. How they find those 
plants is beyond me," he said. "They do a good job. I was driving over to 
my parents in Selma and saw the two helicopters. I knew (Autauga County 
Sheriff) Herbie (Johnson) was out looking for pot."

The aircraft observation was done a little different this year.

"We flew a little later this year than we usually do," Johnson said. "We 
felt that would give the plants time to grow, so they could be spotted 
easier. This is a good haul for us. It's been more than seven or eight 
years since we've found any big plots."

Most of the plants found now are in small groups, five to eight in an area. 
When Johnson became sheriff in 1991, it wasn't unusual to find plots made 
up of several hundred plants. Aggressive eradication efforts and public 
support has cut down on marijuana cultivation.

"The public has been very good to us, calling in tips and information," 
Johnson said. "The helicopters allow us to search areas we can't get to on 
foot, or areas that would take days to search on foot. There's some 
marijuana being grown in the county, but most of the pot we find has been 
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