Drug search yields few plants

Published 11:43 pm Monday, September 24, 2007

NATCHEZ — In an annual search for marijuana, no news should be viewed as good news, narcotics officials said.

The Mississippi and Louisiana bureaus of narcotics found little, if any, marijuana plants on their annual flight in August, officials said.

Using helicopters, and in coordination with the National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol, officers from both narcotics bureaus scanned the Miss-Lou for marijuana.

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“We only got four plants, which is not a lot,” Lt. Col. Sam Owens of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics said. “Sometimes we go and find lots of plants, and other years we don’t find any in the same area.”

Marijuana growers sometimes move plants around to conceal them, Owens said.

“If we find somebody’s plants one year, they will take greater effort to hide them the next,” he said. “They used to plant in open fields. We’d get thousands of plants. They spread them around now, hide them in the wood line where they’re more difficult to see.”

However, statewide, MBN has found fewer plants this year than in past years.

“We think we’re having a significant positive impact on outdoor growing of marijuana,” he said.

Owens said he thought the yearly flights played a big role in finding fewer plants.

Louisiana State Police found no marijuana plants at all when they flew over Concordia Parish last month, Master Trooper Byron Juneau said.

That’s a change from last year, when they found plants along the Black River in Concordia Parish, Juneau said.

“We consider it a good thing,” he said. “Marijuana growers know we’re actively out there looking for it and enforcing the laws on cultivation. We would like to think that because of our enforcement efforts, they’re less likely to grow marijuana in the open anywhere.”