State Police Seize Marijuana Plants, Take DNA Samples

By Dina Kaplan

(CAMPELLSBURG, Ky., July 28th, 2004, 11:30 a.m.) -- State police found more than $200,000 worth of marijuana Tuesday, thanks to an unusually large batch spotted from a police helicopter. But because troopers are so aggressive in finding marijuana, the growers are getting much better at hiding it. WAVE 3's Dina Kaplan reports.

Besides a helicopter ride, finding weed in Kentucky involves offroading through an Old Country Farm, then a rough walk through the wilderness. That's because police say growers try to plant patches as far away from people as possible so they'll be hard to see and get to.

On Tuesday, a search turned up the equivalent of a gold mine for state police. In all, police found 100 marijuana plants worth about $200,000 on the street.

Of course, there's always the possibility of danger -- state troopers took a moment while our cameras were rolling to make sure we weren't being watched.

Troopers always that the grower is nearby.

"Someone's been here today," said Trooper Greg Larimore. Weeds were recently cut and the leaves were not wilted at all. "There's a good possibility the helicopter spooked them," Larimore says.

Convinced no one is nearby, the troopers cut and carrying off their loot -- 100 plants capable of producing one hundred pounds of marijuana.

"That's going to keep marijuana off our streets, keep it away from our kids," said Trooper Randy McCarty.

For three weeks each year, State Police in Campellsburg aggressively search for plants. The marijuana seized Tuesday would have most likely have ended up on the streets not just in Kentucky but around the region.

They are convinced the job is important but also becoming more difficult.

Growers are now better at finding out-of-the-way spots but police say the plant's dark color and their need for sunlight make them stand out. Lurking behind the facade of a forest, the marijuana detail says it can spot its target -- even one plant -- from the air or on foot.

Troopers now take DNA samples from each plant they find. That enables them to link one plant to dozens or even hundreds of others. If someone is arrested five years from now for growing that first plant, police could make a case that the same person was responsible for a much larger crime, and possibly take the case to federal court.

Online Reporter: Dina Kaplan

Online Producer: Michael Dever