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Grow season is over but local experts dedicated to keeping illegal marijuana from being produced in San Diego County say the fight is ongoing.
The narcotics task force released its annual report Tuesday saying it seized 378,243 illegal marijuana plants between January and November 2010. That’s about 200,000 fewer plants than the total seized in 2009.
"It's down this year. Does that mean it's down because they're not growing as much or because the weather wasn't right?" said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Ralph Partridge.
Partridge walked us through the process of finding illegal crops in San Diego County, an area considered to be a popular location for illegal growers.
Beginning as early as March, the San Diego County Marijuana Eradication Program starts aerial surveillance in remote areas of the county to try and identify potential grow sites. They’re looking for areas that are being cleared or prepped for the pot plants.
Once officials discover what they think is going to be a grow site, a team of narcotic investigators trek into rugged territory to investigate. “It’s no easy task,” Partridge said.
Of the plant seizures in during this year’s growing season, 89 crops were found outside. Seventy-six were categorized as indoor finds and carry with them their own potential dangers – everything from warming equipment creating a fire threat or chemical runoff into local sewers.
The program led to 118 arrests and the removal of drugs estimated to be worth about $1 billion on the street depending on the total weight of the plants according to Partridge.
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