Marijuana Growers Being Forced Indoors

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jul 8, 2001.

  1. By Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser
    Source: Montgomery Advertiser

    Because of the use of airpower to combat drugs, many marijuana growers in Alabama have moved their operations indoors. Pot plants can have a street value of about $2,000 each, said Sgt. Keith Kelley, with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation's Marijuana Eradication Program.
    The success of the program, which uses helicopters and airplanes to spot pot, has forced many growers to tend their crops inside. The state started the eradication program in 1982. Over the past three or four years, the number of "indoor grow" busts has increased, Kelley said.

    "When we first started flying the program, it wasn't unusual to find 20 or 30 acre fields of marijuana. While we still find some large plots from time to time, they are rare," Kelley said.

    Indoor marijuana operations have been on the rise in Autauga and Elmore counties. In 1999 in Autauga County, there were 2,103 marijuana plants found. Two indoor operations netted 1,171 and 852 plants, respectively, ABI figures show.

    "We are seeing more indoor operations," Sheriff Herbie Johnson said. "We credit that directly to the eradication program and consistent drug enforcement throughout the year."

    Johnson says it's not unusual to find operations that include ultraviolet lights on timers, reflective materials on walls and systems that give the plants regular doses of liquid fertilizer. All the special equipment is used to increase yields, just as farmers of legal crops do.

    "You can raise a bunch of plants in a converted bedroom," Johnson said. "The advantages of indoor grow is it's harder for law enforcement to find the plants, and the grower controls the environment. You don't have to worry about drought or someone just stumbling across the plot."

    So what's law enforcement's best tool for combating the new threat? Good, old-fashioned police work, said Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin.

    Last week Franklin's department arrested a Tallassee woman after discovering 70 marijuana plants growing in her attic.

    "You work your intelligence gathering just like you do in any crime," he said. "It's human nature not to keep secrets. Somebody who is growing inside is going to talk sooner or later to a friend. That friend is going to talk. We get that information and use good investigative techniques to build a case. We gather enough evidence to get a search warrant and hit the grower."

    Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the use of heat detection devices from outside the home violates the constitutional protection against illegal searches. Most indoor growers elevate the temperature in rooms where pot is cultivated. Infrared radar can detect the hot spots.

    Indoor operations may be on the rise, but that doesn't mean the old-fashioned method of outdoor plots is a thing of the past. Matthew Brown of Montgomery discovered about a dozen marijuana plants last fall growing on hunting club property near the Montgomery and Lowndes county lines.

    "We were bushhogging brush getting ready to plant food plots for deer season," he said. "The plants were spread out around the edge of an opening in the woods. We knew what they were when we saw them. We just bushhogged the pot along with the goldenrod and ragweed. I would have liked to have seen the growers' faces when they snuck back on the place and saw what we did."

    Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
    Author: Marty Roney
    Published: July 6, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 The Advertiser Co.

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