LOWVILLE Area police agencies have discovered about 500 marijuana plants in Lewis County during their annual fall harvest, most of them on Tug Hill.
We started in early September and finished up the last of October, said Dale W. Roberts, senior investigator with the Lewis County Sheriffs Department.
Had the confiscated plants ranging from 3 to 8 feet tall been harvested by their illegal growers, the street value of the resulting drug would have been in the neighborhood of $250,000, Mr. Roberts said.
One load of roughly 80 plants that was taken to a transfer site in Fulton for burning and disposal weighed in at 334 pounds, he said.
While this falls haul is not out of the ordinary, staffing reductions and budgetary constraints at state and local agencies have led to some lower plant yields over the past few years, Mr. Roberts said.
However, that was counteracted this year by shuffling of assignments and some good intelligence, he said.
Sheriffs Department officials, in conjunction with state and Lowville police and state environmental conservation officers and forest rangers, utilized aerial surveillance from the state police aviation unit and Civil Air Patrol, as well as on-the-ground searches and remote sensing, Mr. Roberts said.
Increased foot patrols by state rangers, conservation officers and sheriffs officers yielded multiple target areas and grow sites, he said.
Mr. Roberts said state police made one arrest for unlawfully growing marijuana about a month ago, but neither he nor investigators at the Lowville state police barracks had further information on that case.
Most of the plants were found in heavily wooded areas on state land in the towns of Pinckney, Montague, Osceola, West Turin, Lewis and Lyonsdale, making it nearly impossible to determine who planted them.
Odds arent in our favor, Mr. Roberts said. But were not going to stop trying. Well be out there.
Local police agencies also will continue to seek out indoor growing sites as temperatures begin to drop, he said.
Among the marijuana plants harvested this year were eight confiscated in mid-August by first-year Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli in the vicinity of his Osceola residence.
In response to a report to the Lewis County dispatch center of a suspicious vehicle near a hunting camp off Jackson Road, the sheriff did an area check and discovered potted marijuana plants behind the camp building.
He took them to the Public Safety Building in Lowville for disposal and left his business card on one of the emptied pots.