2008-08-09 / News

Perry County growers still at large

By Scott Rawdon

NEW LEXINGTON- Nearly 6,000 marijuana plants were seized near Crooksville Aug. 1, although the growers remain at-large.

The seizure reveals what BCI&I agents believe is a new and disturbing trend of squatters creating encampments within Ohio fields where they live and tend to their illegal crops.

A helicopter spotter discovered the plants during marijuana eradication efforts in Perry County late afternoon Aug. 1. The growers fled when agents and law enforcement descended upon the field. The encampment was found complete with a tent, a large supply of food, cots, toiletries, and deep cycle batteries to power cell phones. A similar encampment was discovered in Pickaway County last year.

Jennifer Brindisi, Ohio AG Deputy Director of Communications for Law Enforcement, said as of Wednesday, the growers were still at-large. She said BCI&I is assisting the Perry County Sheriff's Department analyze a possible partial fingerprint discovered at the site. But, "At this point we don't have anyone," she said. Brindisi said the sheriff's department is conducting the search.

"This is the second time we have seen drug traffickers living among and tending to their own marijuana plants," said BCI&I Special Agent Supervisor Scott Duff in a press release. "It's a disturbing trend in the western part of the United States that we believe has slowly made its way to Ohio."

"We take marijuana growing very seriously and we will continue to aggressively push back against this problem and make sure the communities in Ohio are free from illegal drug production and distribution," said BCI&I Deputy Superintendent Ben Casuccio.

Six thousand plants can produce approximately six pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $9 million, according to

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