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Pot has enemies in high places

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By Sarah Baldwin - bio | email

July 23, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - An air attack on drug operations in south Georgia paid off for some communities. The Governor's Drug Task Force is made up of several state and federal agencies, working together to spot outdoor marijuana grows from the air.

Thousands of acres of south Georgia land was scanned from above as teams scoured the countryside.  "We go about the state flying separate counties, ground crews, observing for marijuana grows," said Daniel Booke, Wildlife Technician with the Department of Natural Resources, and part of the Governor's Drug Task Force.

Thomas County drug agents say the Governor's drug task force's annual visit is a huge help to them.  "They can see from the top, and it's easy to see marijuana growing. So we can't walk all of Thomas County, but they can fly most of it in a relatively quick time," said Thomas County Narcotics Commander Kevin Lee. 

A helicopter pilot is paired with a spotter. They're mainly from different agencies, but they're experienced, and they know what they're looking for.  "Once the helicopter spots this they contact us. Ground crew goes in, and eradicates it," said Booke.

 The plants are usually found in the middle of a clearing in heavily wooded areas.  "We contact the locals.  They let us know some coordinates for us to fly, points of interest," said Booke. 

Drug agents told the task force to scan this spot where they once found 100 marijuana plants growing. This bust wasn't as big, but when the helicopter crew spotted it, the ground crew went in and took out 17 plants, some up to 7 feet tall.

"It is a gateway drug, and it normally leads to cocaine, Meth, and other types of harder drugs. Its easy to get. So it is important that we get it and get it off the streets," said Lee. 

Drug agents say if it weren't for the aerial view the drug task force provides, some plots would never be spotted, and the growers would never be caught.

The Task Force is comprised of personnel from the GBI, Georgia State Patrol, Motor Carrier Compliance, DNR, the Department of Defense, The DEA and the Civil Air Patrol.  

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