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Craft said 200 plants is “a good lick. We used to get thousands but it all shifted to indoors because of our aviation division. It scared a lot of them off.”

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This operation involved officers in the sky looking for marijuana plants, which Craft said are very distinct when mixed with other crops and backyard landscaping. There were no tips about grow operations pointing officers to specific locations, he said.

The helicopter was in the sky eight hours, and officers worked 10 hours yesterday during the operation. The plants are kept in evidence and destroyed annually, along with other drugs seized.

While eradication efforts don’t net the same results in past years, Craft said they will continue.

“Because (marijuana) is illegal,” Craft said. “That is about as simple as it can get. It is against the law and until the law changes we are going to enforce the law.”

Despite legalization for medical marijuana, it is still illegal to grow plant in Ohio. said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

“It’s illegal to grow marijuana, period,” Jones said. “It’s illegal to make whiskey and run liquor. You can buy it in the store legally, but it is illegal to have stills. It’s still illegal to grow marijuana. I don’t make the laws, I enforce them and will continue, until they make it legal, then it is a different story.”

The sheriff said in recent years the focus of the the drug unit has switched to methamphetamine, cocaine and heroine, but the growing and distribution of marijuana is not ignored.

Over the years, the BCSO has had several helicopters that were Army surplus, but the last two were purchased with drug seizure money, including cash and proceeds of sale of assets from drug activity.

Jones said the helicopter has many uses other than eradication including rescues, searches and police business even in counties that might need aerial assistant for investigations.

“We have never used the helicopter for just marijuana,” Jones said. “We get plenty of bang out of it and the drug dealers are paying for the helicopter. We appreciate them doing it.”

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