Local authorities are battling the war on drugs from the air and the ground, even at public parks in Montgomery County, Md., where marijuana growers may have set up shop.
“Even though it’s being grown here, this is being distributed throughout the county and throughout the metropolitan region to your friends and neighbors and maybe even your children,” said Maryland-National Capital Park Police Lt. Brian Smith.
Police have been scouring local parks for the past 20 years, seizing millions of dollars in pot.
News4 was granted exclusive access as armed undercover officers went through Seneca Creek Park to check on one of their latest discoveries -- a grow site equipped with fencing, water and branches to disguise the illegal activity. Police were too late to confiscate plants there, but from the air, the chopper can look for more.
What are the indicators?
“Any straight lines and fencing," Smith said. "There might be snow fencing -- an attempt to camouflage an area. So they’re looking for those things that look out of place.”
At another nearby grow site, police confiscated 12 marijuana plants worth about $18,000. That site was more dangerous, armed with trip wires that police said can contain anything from fishhooks to bells to explosives.
“A lot of these grow sites are booby trapped because they want to tell if they’ve been discovered. They also want to give themselves warning and they want to keep other people away from them,” Smith said. "So this could be potentially dangerous to park patrons and their pets.”
Police said the fields are usually planted in groups of threes -- one for the planters to keep for their personal use, another that they want police to find and a third for street sale.
After walking about a half mile -- over barbwire and under down trees -- a third site was found where the remaining plants were confiscated.
Police said it’s not easy to catch the planters, but if it takes stakeouts that last days, they’ll do it to make sure public parks stay safe and drugs stay off the streets.