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57 marijuana plants seized in drug eradication efforts

Some 57 marijuana plants valued at $171,000 were seized Thursday in countywide drug eradication efforts conducted by area law enforcement officers.

Although not a large haul, Jay George of the Halifax/South Boston Regional Narcotics and Gang Task Force said authorities “can pretty much put a person with the plants seized.”

“We didn’t do bad,” he said of Thursday’s daylong aerial helicopter and land search and seizure conducted by 30 officers from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Halifax/South Boston Regional Narcotics and Gang Task Force, South Boston Police Department, Virginia State Police and the Virginia National Guard.

“We covered the entire county,” George said, adding another similar search is anticipated in the future.

Officers confiscated marijuana plants ranging in height from 2- to 6-feet tall found at various locations across the county.

No arrests were made Thursday, but the investigation is ongoing, George said.

Originally, authorities had scheduled the annual eradication effort for July 10 using two National Guard helicopters.

However, inclement weather prevented the helicopters from going up that day, and the daylong fly-over was rescheduled for Thursday.

Only one helicopter was available that day, so officers were unable to cover as much territory as previously planned, George added.

The eradication is a joint effort of area law enforcement agencies that compile information on potential suspects throughout the year to be used when the black helicopter flies over the county in the summer before the illegal weed’s harvest time.

“Our potential suspects come from anonymous tips gathered throughout the year,” George said. “When we have an opportunity to fly, we print out our list and check the sure things first.”

Due to limited resources, George said, authorities are unable to use the National Guard helicopters as often as they would like to search for marijuana being grown illegally in the wooded areas of Halifax County.

“We can only cover so much area in one day,” George said. “We’re hoping to cover more later this summer.”

Two pilots and investigators certified and trained to identify marijuana flew from site to site targeting specific locations throughout Thursday, while other officers investigated from the ground.

George said, “It is a very case specific and very regimented operation.”

At the end of the day, the officers hauled in the 57 marijuana plants that George said will be burned after the plants lose their evidentiary value in the marijuana eradication operation.