The KSP Cannabis Suppression Branch launched their annual outdoor campaign to eradicate cultivated marijuana with a two-day training including aerial spotting and repel techniques, GPS land navigation, ATV training, and booby trap awareness.
Lt. Brent Roper, a 21 year veteran of KSP and current commander for the Cannabis Suppression Branch, is charged with overseeing the training and coordinating the summer seasonal campaign to catch high volume growers.
"We take this operation very serious and for that reason, provide our teams with the best training available to keep them safe while eradicating a large number of plants," says Roper.
Roper says the seasonal enforcement campaign is a multi-agency operation including the Drug Enforcement Administra-tion, Appalachia HIDTA, US Forestry Service, National Guard, US Marshal Service and KSP.
In 2011, Kentucky marijuana suppression teams eradicated nearly 400,000 outdoor pot plants from over 5,000 plots resulting in 371 arrests.
"One fully developed pot plant can be processed into one pound of street packaged marijuana," adds Roper. "A one-pound unit will sell for approximately $2,000."
KSP teams removed nearly $800 million dollars worth of outdoor pot in 2011.
Last year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) funded marijuana eradication operations in the US that removed 6.2 million outdoor plants resulting in 8,501 arrests and seizure of 42.1 million dollars of cultivator assets. The program also removed 5,181 weapons from cannabis cultivators.
Roper sees marijuana as an avenue to finance trade for other illicit substances and drug-trafficking enterprises.
"Marijuana is definitely a cash crop in Kentucky and what some people don't understand is that these funds are assisting in illegal trade operations of other dangerous drugs," says Roper.
According to the KSP website, the top 10 counties for outdoor marijuana eradication in 2011 (by plant numbers) were Wayne, Knox, Bell, Lee, Knott, Casey, Monroe, Pike, Harlan and Leslie counties.
"Through our website, we provide the total number of marijuana plants eradicated in each Kentucky county," adds Roper. "This gives citizens an opportunity to see what is going on in the communities where they live."
The link for this page is http://www.kentuckystatepolice.org/
KSP is encouraging the public to get involved with the seasonal campaign by calling their toll free hotline at 1 (800) DOPE-TIP.
Callers can remain anonymous. All tips are investigated.