Big marijuana crops keeping officers busy

  • Follow Metro

COLUMBIA - From the ground, the pine forests near the North Carolina line appear unremarkable - rows of trees that eventually will be chopped down to make way for a housing development.

But hidden among the trees, visible only from the air, police in recent weeks have found a bumper crop of what some experts consider South Carolina's most lucrative harvest: marijuana.

More than 30,000 marijuana plants have been seized in two July busts just south of Charlotte, N.C., bringing the total amount of pot seized this year to 38,000 plants. That's nearly three times the number confiscated across South Carolina in all of 2005, and nearly as many as were seized statewide last year.

State and federal authorities, and experts in marijuana policies, say that what appears to be a bumper crop of the illicit plants this year is linked to two factors: bolder and more sophisticated marijuana growers producing more of the drug, and law enforcement getting better at finding the growing operations.

"The traffickers are doing just larger amounts of grows, and larger crops, in places where law enforcement is doing a better job in finding them," said John Ozaluk, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's top agent in South Carolina. "It's a very bold thing to do, to plant that many marijuana plants."

Much of the marijuana that ends up in South Carolina is grown in Mexico, according to federal officials. But transporting drugs across the U.S.-Mexican border means high costs and security risks, something Mr. Ozaluk said has led to more homegrown marijuana.

Growers have plenty of financial incentive to get into the booming domestic industry. A 2006 study by Virginia-based researcher Jon Gettman said marijuana was the nation's largest cash crop, at $35.8 billion over a three-year period, and was the single largest cash crop in 12 states, including South Carolina. From 2003 to 2005, marijuana production and sales amounted to a $142 million industry in the state, ahead of tobacco ($97 million) and cotton ($92 million).

Comments (17) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Daphne
1
Points
Daphne 07/29/07 - 06:29 am
0
0
Marijuanna should be

Marijuanna should be legalized. Alcohol and Tobacco are legal, how hypocritical is that????

doubt_it
3
Points
doubt_it 07/29/07 - 07:06 am
0
0
Imagine the taxes that could

Imagine the taxes that could be generated by a $10B industry. That would go a long way to help pay for education and drug treatment. Not to mention the savings to the judicial system.

Ole School
0
Points
Ole School 07/29/07 - 08:34 am
0
0
NO IT SHOULD NOT BE LEGAL , I

NO IT SHOULD NOT BE LEGAL , I have seen what it can do SAME AS Alcohol !

xqwbv2
3
Points
xqwbv2 07/29/07 - 09:03 am
0
0
And prohibition did wonders

And prohibition did wonders in keeping demon rum from ruining the country in the 20's and 30's, didn't it?

Leroy
0
Points
Leroy 07/29/07 - 09:33 am
0
0
Yeah, let's legalize it.

Yeah, let's legalize it. While we're at it, it seems a lot of people like cocaine, meth, heroin, etc. Let's go ahead and legalize all that too. ***End Sarcasm***

If you legalize marijuana, where does it end? You'd just be opening a pandora's box.

truthwillsetufree
0
Points
truthwillsetufree 07/29/07 - 09:48 am
0
0
Cigarettes kill more people

Cigarettes kill more people every year than all illegal drugs combined. Of course Marijauna shoould be legal. By decriminalizing marijuana you take a burden of the justice system and creat tax revenue.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 07/29/07 - 09:54 am
0
0
You then have a bunch of

You then have a bunch of goofey acting people if legal and the psychotic problems of the users later in life. Alcohol and tobacco use is enough of a problem.

nems
0
Points
nems 07/29/07 - 11:05 am
0
0
ole school is a idiot

ole school is a idiot

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 07/29/07 - 11:20 am
0
0
Marijauna, is not a drug it

Marijauna, is not a drug it is an HERB! There is no comparison between pot & alcohol! 300-400 people die each year from aspirin, there has never been a case of marijauna killing anyone. When people are arrested for a crime they immediately blame it on alcohol, drugs, poverty, ignorance, but never blame themselves. Marijauana, thanks to propaganda from the 1930's, has been unduly vilified!! Ole school, go back to school and learn the truth. PLEASE!! Listen to truthwillsetufree.

wise
1
Points
wise 07/29/07 - 11:42 am
0
0
How could you compare

How could you compare Marijuna to alcohol. How many people have killed some one with their car because they smoked to much Marijuna.

Pay What U Owe
5
Points
Pay What U Owe 07/29/07 - 12:17 pm
0
0
ole school: you are stuck on

ole school: you are stuck on stupid!

DGreene1
0
Points
DGreene1 07/29/07 - 12:48 pm
0
0
The govt. makes more money

The govt. makes more money seizing property that it would with a tax; but the money doesn't go toward education or drug treatment, it goes back into law enforcement's increasingly greedy pockets. By the way everyone who has posted a positive comment should expect to be investigated.

hamerdawg
0
Points
hamerdawg 07/29/07 - 12:48 pm
0
0
The govt. makes more money

The govt. makes more money seizing property that it would with a tax; but the money doesn't go toward education or drug treatment, it goes back into law enforcement's increasingly greedy pockets. By the way everyone who has posted a positive comment should expect to be investigated.

lynxfan11
0
Points
lynxfan11 07/29/07 - 02:36 pm
0
0
Legalize it. Don't critize

Legalize it. Don't critize it.

grimreapa69420
0
Points
grimreapa69420 07/29/07 - 06:18 pm
0
0
marijuana was once legal..but

marijuana was once legal..but was made illegal partially to racism because the government said it made black people go crazy...it doesnt cause lung and mouth cancer like cigarettes, and doesnt destroy your liver like alcohol...in face hospitals give marijuana to help patients out sometimes so how could it possibly be bad

reader54
139
Points
reader54 07/29/07 - 11:11 pm
0
0
tobacco kills more americans

tobacco kills more americans each year ( 400,000+)than the toll inthe korean,world war 2,viet nam, iraq and every conflict in between. they are physically and psycologically addictive,marketed to children and the ceo's of the top five tobacco companies perjured themselves in front of congress and got away with it! Oh yeah,and they have no medicinal value! can you say SPECIAL INTEREST! HYPOCRISY IN IT'S PUREST FORM.Marijuana is simply a political crime.

As It Is
2
Points
As It Is 07/29/07 - 11:37 pm
0
0
Anyone who has seen what

Anyone who has seen what drugs does to individuals will not promote the use or legalization of them. Marijuana is a drug and is abused by many whom often then turn to stronger or more dangerous drugs. If you want to talk about alcohol laws or cigarette laws then change the subject but the rationalle that because they are legal so should marijuana makes absolutely no since. On the other hand, the government has enough to worry about without worrying about individuals growing or using marijuana and they could divert their resources and the additional tax revenues to other areas. However, those using drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. all should be under a different classification for health insurance and liabilities so as not to raise the rates on everyone. And for those without insurance, the taxpayers should not end up paying their medical bills or any other bills for that matter. This one issue raises so many questions on both sides that there simply isn't one easy issue. But, less government is better government so if adults 21 and over want to ruin their own lives without hurting others or costing the taxpayers money, so be it.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 07/30/07 - 10:28 am
0
0
The War on Drugs has been the
Unpublished

The War on Drugs has been the longest-lived governmental scam on taxpayers I've seen in my lifetime. Agents have never been interested in winning this mealticket of a 'war.' It has created a runaway, self-perpetuating fascist bureaucracy riddled with corruption and self-promotion geared to yearly enhancement of budgets. The DEA are among the world's most sophisticated criminals, especially in foreign countries, where kidnapping suspects, torture, and illegal 'renditioning' has been de rigueur for nearly forty years. The enemy is within.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs