As the summer winds down and local crops ripen, farmers gear up for the harvest, but so do law enforcement agencies.
National Guard helicopters buzzed over farm fields and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department teamed up with state, Amsterdam, Fort Plain, St. Johnsville, and Gloversville police departments to search the county for illicit marijuana growing operations.
Between spotters in the air and law enforcement on the ground armed with saws and 4-wheelers, Undersheriff Jeff Smith said the crew of 20 harvested over 200 large mature marijuana plants from 10 separate locations on Tuesday.
“At the very least, it’s that much marijuana that won’t be on the street to be smoked and sold,” Smith said.
It was a productive day for law enforcement, but according to Smith, they found considerably fewer plants than usual this year.
In past Marijuana Eradication Operations, they’ve turned up as many as 500 plants.
“We’re hoping that our efforts in the past have diminished the practice,” Smith said, “and will halt it all together.”
The Sheriff’s department coordinates an eradication operation every year based upon tips from the general public, so it makes sense for growers to move, but there is another very practical reason the harvest is smaller this year.
“It was a rough year with the drought,” Smith said.
He said most of the plants were found in fields of more conventional crops, which means the weed suffered the same hot dry weather as the corn.
Montgomery’s search was executed in conjunction with another separate operation to the north in Fulton County, with differing results.
Over 650 plants were turned up, which is above average for Fulton County.
Both searches were successful in that when many are found, many are off the street and when few are found, few are being grown.
“We covered the area as efficiently as possible,” Smith said, “We’re fairly sure there is little to none left.”
The investigation is still under way, and there have been no arrests as yet.
All plants were disposed of at an undisclosed location.