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Drug raid brings in haul of pot plants

A Virginia task force aimed at wiping out drug sales recently confiscated 57 marijuana plants worth about $170,000 in a raid.

Thirty officers from a variety of Virginia agencies took part in a daylong search and seizure conducted on land and by helicopter, covering all of Hamilton County, Virginia. A spokesman for the group said it intends to conduct a similar search soon.

The plants seized by the officers ranged from 2- to 6-feet tall and were nabbed from a variety of areas in Hamilton County. The seized plants eventually will be destroyed after they no longer are needed for evidence. The officers made no arrests but will continue the investigation.

The coordinated search was led by two pilots and investigators who have received special training in identifying marijuana plants.

The locations to search were chosen after a review of information compiled throughout the year, frequently based on anonymous tips. A Virginia National Guard helicopter were used, and the timing of the raid had to do with the helicopter's availability as well as the need to confiscate the plants before they are harvested.

Because of limited funding, the agencies cannot use the National Guard helicopter as frequently as desired to search for marijuana. That is why the areas searched were pinpointed.

Working with the National Guard was the Halifax County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police, Halifax/South Boston Regional Narcotics and Gang Task Force and the South Boston Police Department.

Although no suspects were taken into custody the day of the raid and none have been arrested since, law enforcement likely will charge someone or a group of people with a drug crime. Once that happens, the defendants and their team will need to make sure that the agencies followed all proper procedures regarding search and seizure laws.

Source: The Gazette-Virginian, "57 marijuana plants seized in drug eradication efforts," Paula I. Bryant, July 17, 2012

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