Two words: Marijuana eradication. That's why a helicopter was flying around Woodbury on Wednesday, Sept. 5, said Woodbury Police Officer Tim Wright.
"This is something that I've been doing for nine years," he said. "I used to work for statewide narcotics and I became a spotter for marijuana eradication. Basically, we find big patches of marijuana growing in backyards, fields or woods."
Wright said the Statewide Narcotics Task Force got a late start because of the weather and eradicated about a dozen large marijuana plants. No arrests were made, but he said they may be forthcoming.
"A couple weeks ago, we got 150 plants," he said. "That was in Woodbury and into Watertown, on Route 6, near the Young's Nursery neighborhood but not on the Young Nursery's property."
Another targeted area from that eradication was next to the Watertown transfer station, said Wright.
When the plants are pulled from a property, they get submitted as evidence and eventually incinerated, he said.
The September 5 flyover was mainly in Woodbury and Roxbury, Wright said.
When marijuana is spotted and the helicopter lands, he said the team will sometimes have to use machetes to get to the plants. But sometimes, the marijuana can just be growing in someone's backyard.
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"We did a case in Thomaston around 2006-07, and we took the guy's house," he said.
That, Wright admits, was an extreme case. The man even had more than $100,000 buried in his backyard, he said.
People Get Nervous
The helicopters do cause concern among people, he said.
"Usually people start calling police and get nervous," he said. "We use different aircrafts, anywhere from military to different governmental aircrafts."
"Yesterday, there was a piece of property in town here where the plants were to the left side of the driveway," said Wright. "Someone had planted plants out there. The homeowner was a little perturbed that the plants were on his property. He didn't know they were there."
Wright said it's usually fairly clear figuring out if someone planted the plants or had no clue who did the planting.
"Sometimes we get tips," he said. "But mainly, we know that you can't grow marijuana under a canopy of trees. They need, pretty much, full sunlight. They can't have it right under the open because other people will steal it or people will find it. I know what to look for, let's put it like that."
"It's big business," he said. "One plant can yield a pound of marijuana."
But, Wright cautioned, the benefits of making money aren't enough when you consider the consequences.
"They relaxed the marijuana laws but they didn't lax the cultivation laws," he said. "You get caught with a bag of marijuana and you'll get a $150 fine. You get caught growing, you're probably going to jail."