Pubdate: Wed, 27 Aug 2008
Source: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Charles Keeshan


For the third time in less than a month, McHenry County Sheriff's 
police Wednesday eradicated a huge marijuana-growing operation, 
destroying an estimated $1.2 million in cannabis crops found in a 
rural area near the Wisconsin border.

Sheriff's deputies, working alongside agents from the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Administration, descended on a wooded area northeast of 
Harvard this morning and discovered about 1,200 cannabis plants over 
an area less than five acres.

"We're aggressively looking for grow sites, both on foot and in the 
air," Sheriff Keith Nygren said. "We know from experience that 
growers are looking for rural, somewhat desolate areas and we have a 
number of places like that in McHenry County."

The find comes about four weeks after deputies uncovered about 3,800 
plants - valued at as much as $4 million - in two locations near Hebron.

As was the case then, Wednesday's raid also uncovered a campsite amid 
the growing operation where it appears caretakers lived and tended to 
the crops. Nobody was arrested as a result of Wednesday's raid, 
though investigators are reviewing evidence found at the scene to 
track down those responsible for the operation, Nygren said.

In all three cases, the growing operation was in a concealed, wooded 
area, rather than open farmland as had been more common in recent years.

"We're finding more and more often they're going into the woods 
because they know we're looking for them from the air," Nygren said.

The operation was located on private property owned by an 
out-of-state resident who was unaware of the situation, Nygren said.

Sheriff's Lt. Andrew Zinke said growing operations like the ones 
found in the past month are becoming more common as drug traffickers 
decide it is less expensive and easier to grow marijuana locally than 
in Mexico and then ship it across the United States.

"We're going to keep finding these grows, we're going to ruin these 
people's business and we're going to drive them out of the county," Zinke said.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart