Air patrol helps raid weed fields

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Recent effort finds 800 plants with $1.6 million value

By Jeff D'Alessio

Local law enforcement agencies battle marijuana on land and by air.

A recent week-long investigation by Kentucky State Police at Post 4, KSP Aircraft section and the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force went airborne around Post 4’s eight counties, turning up 800 marijuana plants with a street value of $1.6 million, officials said.

“It’s a tool that we use,” said task force director Ron Eckart of the work overhead. “It’s necessary, that’s for sure.”

Eckart said each plant found typically generates about a pound of marijuana with a street value of about $2,000 per pound.

“Anything you can find means a lot,” he said.

KSP spokesman Jeff Gregory said 19 plots of marijuana plants at sites in seven counties were found and destroyed. Seven of the plots were in Hardin County, three each in LaRue and Bullitt counties, two each in Breckinridge and Meade counties and one apiece in Jefferson and Nelson counties.

“The statewide harvest is usually early August through the first part of September,” Gregory said. “This is a prime cutting time throughout the state.”

Twelve criminal arrests were made and 19 criminal cases were opened and are under investigation. Eighteen guns also were confiscated, according to a KSP news release.

The search was Aug. 12-16.

Gregory said the search is a culmination of months of work where tips to KSP and the task force are checked out and many of the areas were searched by air.

Eckart said southern Hardin County turned into a hot spot for plots with several discovered in the Sonora and Upton areas.

Gregory said when you have the availability of good spotters, as they had from both agencies, finding marijuana plants is not as difficult as most would expect. About 15 officials took part in the searches from all of the agencies.

In other years, there may be three weeks to fly in the post area, but the expense for fuel has stripped many agencies of that opportunity, Gregory said.

“Doing this is just another avenue that we use,” Eckart said.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.