Aerial search for marijuana comes up empty in Mathews

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jun 29, 2011 - 03:27 PM

Middle Peninsula Drug Task Force helicopters flew over Mathews County last week looking for marijuana plants, according to Sheriff Danny Howlett, but nothing was found.

Howlett said the task force annually searches counties of the Middle Peninsula for signs of the plant, which has approximately the same growing season as corn. Helicopters with trained agents fly low, accompanied by local sheriff’s deputies who are familiar with the area, he said, and they coordinate with deputies on the ground.

The searches have proved effective in the past and have resulted in arrests and prosecutions, said Howlett. In addition, money and property seized during drug arrests is sometimes given to localities.

In a recent case, a pickup truck used by a perpetrator to haul fertilizer, plants and wood for a marijuana-growing operation was impounded and awarded to the Mathews Sheriff’s Office by the courts, said Howlett. It will soon be turned into a second animal control truck to replace a Jeep currently being used.

Money to equip the truck, $6,000, will come from the county’s share of proceeds from the seizure of a house in Gloucester that had been used for a drug operation, Howlett said, adding that some of the $6,000 will also be used to help equip a Humvee acquired free by the sheriff’s office through an army surplus distribution.