DPS, Guard, DEA eradicate 760,000 marijuana plants in 2001

More than 760,000 marijuana plants growing in Texas were eradicated in 2001 by DPS officers, the Texas Air National Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies. Most plants were growing wild, but 48,700 others were cultivated outdoors or indoors by marijuana traffickers. DPS investigations into marijuana cultivation (indoor and outdoor) resulted in the arrests of 160 people and the seizure of 77 firearms.

The domestic marijuana eradication (DME) program has operated in Texas since 1987. In 2000, more than 415,700 marijuana plants were eradicated, 71 people were arrested and 53 weapons were seized.

“Domestic marijuana eradication by the DPS, the Air National Guard, local law enforcement agencies and the DEA has helped make Texas a safer place,” said Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr., director of the DPS. “This is a program that shows definite, immediate results. Many burglaries and other crimes are directly related to drugs and drug use.”

The DEA provides operational, financial and technical assistance to the program. DPS Narcotics officers work with the Texas Air National Guard and DPS Aircraft, which support the ground efforts by providing aerial reconnaissance. Although local law enforcement agencies often provide information about marijuana grows, some plots are located by flying over them.

Officers this year found fairly sophisticated cultivations, including one that had an automated watering system that ran off an electrical generator in the woods. Other growths were wild, remnants of previous legal cultivation for hemp in wartime 1940s.

DPS’s domestic marijuana eradication program also includes an educational component. DPS Safety Education Service troopers present programs in schools about the dangers of drug use and are planning an educational section within the DPS Web site.

“Our Safety Education Service troopers try to reach out to children at a young age to emphasize the importance of staying drug-free,” said Col. Davis.