“We would’ve liked to get more, but it’s something,” Erie County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Papineau said. “It’s always a good day to get it off the street.”
Weather and timing were the likely culprits in this year’s meager harvest. “There’s been a lot of rain and cold spells this season, and right around now is when they start harvesting,” Papineau said. Three deputies, two Sandusky officers and one Huron officer embarked on the mission shortly after noon, following a brief rain delay.
“It’s a countywide problem when it comes to drugs,” Papineau said. “We like to get agencies to work together.”
The crews began the hunt in Margaretta Township, steadily working south and east as a helicopter hummed overhead.
In the helicopter was an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent, tasked with spotting the growing plants from above and letting deputies know where to put their machetes to work.
“Further, further, now 25 rows in,” the agent directed.
The first stop yielded five stalks of marijuana. “We got about enough for one bowl,” one deputy joked, obstructed behind a maze of corn.
At Potter and Bragg roads they found another 29 plants, growing in large plastic tubs in the middle of a field. On Billings Road they scored another 38 plants. Each plant is worth about $1,000 after it’s dried, prepared and sold.
The vast majority of plants pulled Tuesday were rather small, with few or no buds, the part of the plant that’s commonly smoked.
The largest budding plants deputies found were indeed surrounded by corn, but in this case they were in a Boos Road resident’s backyard garden. “We have to dry it and get it weighed to determine if it’s a felony or misdemeanor amount,” Papineau said. Either way, the cultivators will likely face charges.
Normally deputies soak the plants in fuel and burn them when they’ve completed the search. But with so few plants pulled this time around, deputies instead chose to dry it out and secure it in the evidence locker.
All told, deputies destroyed $75,000 worth of marijuana Tuesday.
“To me, it was a good day,” Papineau said.