Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lee County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit: Pilots bust marijuana grow operation

The Lee County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit detected a marijuana plants operation on July 11, 2013 in Forest Lake gated community.
 (Lee County Sheriff's Office)

LEE COUNTY,Fla.- Lee County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit pilots had a view birds-eye view of a marijuana grow operation. The chopper was actually looking for a stolen atv, when they decided to look in an area where the tip of a possible marijuana grow operation came in. The pilots in this helicopter were able to see the marijuana plants three to 500 feet up and call in ground units. 

"It's safe to say if you are cultivating marijuana inside or outside, we're going to find it and we are going to eliminate it the best we can," said Commander Mike Warner.

Out of sight from the general public, but two pilots were able to get a birds eye view of marijuana plants growing in a wooded area.

"It's place in an area where you had to know it was there to get to it; you weren't going to stumble on it and it wasn't easy for our own deputies to get there. We had to bring them in the scenic route around the retention pond," said Commander Warner.

They were able to spot those 11 marijuana plants, keeping an estimated $11,000 of weed from being sold on the street.

"We received a tip of a possible cultivation area, went to that area, and within 30 seconds, located the plants and called in the ground unit and they came in and removed the plants," said Cpl. Vince Minnillo.

Only our cameras captured deputies carrying out the plants that were growing inside of this barrier.

"It's a fairly distinct color green, it needs sunlight to grow, 12 hours of sunlight, so because of that you need sunlight, that opens up the air above it so we can see it," said Commander Warner.

The pilots say in most cases, it's not usually their technology that brings down a grow operation.

"Normally the case is it's human intelligence, it's neighbors in the vicinity that sees strange comings and goings, weird hours of operations, not normal residential pattern."

The Lee County Sheriffs Office is asking anyone with information on who is behind this grow operation to call them.


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