Pubdate:  Monday, August 31, 1998
Source: The Bangor Daily News (ME)
Author: Sharon Mack


ATHENS - Law officers discovered recently that not only can helicopters be
used to spot marijuana growing operations from the air, their thumping
blades can tip off the growers that they"ve been had. Somerset County drug
officers arrested Herbert "Ted" Hampe, 35, Friday night after they spotted
marijuana growing on his property from the air. At the same time they
spotted the pot, Hampe spotted them, according to Detective Lt. Carl
Gottardi II of the Somerset County Sheriff"s Department.

"Before we could land and get back there, he harvested about 160 plants,"
said the detective. Hampe was arrested after he was discovered hiding under
a truck parked by the growing field. More than 300 marijuana plants were
confiscated, along with a cache of mushrooms, pills and cultivation

Gottardi said the marijuana plants were of very high quality and ranged from
3 to 9 feet tall. They were being grown about 80 yards behind Hampe"s
residence, he said. He estimated their street worth at between $20,000 and

Hampe was charged with trafficking in marijuana, a felony.

Unable to post bail of $20,000 double surety or $5,000 cash, Hampe remained
in the Somerset County Jail on Sunday.

Gottardi said Hampe"s growing operation was discovered by accident while the
detective was searching for other plots in the Pittsfield-Harmony area. "We
just happened to fly over his land on our way to Harmony," Gottardi said.
Hampe"s property is on Route 150 in Athens.

Before police arrived with a search warrant for Hampe"s property, Gottardi
said the man harvested some plants and then fled when he observed the
deputies arriving. Several hours later he was discovered hiding under a
junked truck, said the detective.

The search warrant was executed by Gottardi and the Somerset County Warrant
Team: Deputies Darren Hooper, Dale Tilton, Pierre Boucher, Steven McDaniel,
Paul York, Tom Rourke, Kent Stevens and members of the Pittsfield and
Fairfield police departments.

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Checked-by: Rolf Ernst