News and Tribune

Clark County

September 2, 2010

$47.5 million in marijuana plants eradicated by ISP

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Within about a week, Indiana State Police eradicated approximately 19,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $47.5 million across the state.

ISP Sgt. Chad Dick said “Operation Hoosier Thunder” was a cooperative effort between numerous state and federal agencies that began Aug. 23. Efforts were focused on the southern half of the state, including Clark and Floyd counties.

“We’ve concentrated from about Brown County all the way to the Ohio River,” Dick said.

Indiana National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Forest Service, Civil Air Patrol, Indiana Department of Natural Resources all worked together with the mission to confirm or deny the presence of cultivated marijuana in and around Hoosier National Forest and to reduce marijuana supply in southern Indiana, Dick said.

The operation was in response to ongoing intelligence of illegal drug trafficking operations growing marijuana on public properties, such as the Hoosier National Forest and other state and federally owned properties. Police acted on numerous tips

Because many of the grows are in rugged and dense terrain where they are better hidden, OH-58 and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the Indiana National Guard were used as well as ISP an Civil Air Patrol aircraft and ground crews. Dick said the National Guard helicopters hover much better than the ISP helicopters, and so it is easier to spot the marijuana growing.

“They hold more people, so more eyes can look and see. When you put those types of assets together ... I’m not really surprised (how much marijuana was found),” Dick said.

According to ISP, 316 illegal marijuana plots were discovered and 20 suspects statewide have charges pending for illegal grows. The largest operation was in Jackson County where 7,513 plants were located.

Although the main operation is concluded, state and federal authorities will continue to investigate.

The operation was funded through the Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and DEA.

Anyone with drug information can call the Indiana Marijuana Tip line at 888-873-1694.  Callers have the option to remain anonymous.

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