Agents pull nearly $40M in pot from Ohio streets

BROWN COUNTY, Ohio -- Across Ohio, state drug agents spent the summer pulling weeds -- literally.

Over the last few months, marijuana plants with a street value of nearly $40 million were pulled from backyards, cornfields and private gardens.

Dwight Aspacher, a special agent for the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, said an increasing amount of the marijuana taken off the streets of Ohio isn’t from exotic places: It’s grown in the state.

"A lot of marijuana is grown within the state and stays within the state,” said Aspacher.

Aspacher tracks marijuana from a helicopter in the air while the Brown County Sheriff's Office handles the ground offensive.

From the sky, he can spot plants that the ground caravan can't.

But he said sometimes it's like finding a needle in a haystack.

So far this year, the attorney general's marijuana eradication program has confiscated more than 20,000 marijuana plants statewide.

In Brown County, authorities have seized several hundred.

The biggest haul to date was the seizure of over 100,000 plants in 2010.

"I believe it's still a problem. They're just getting more creative on where they're putting it and make it a little more difficult for us to spot it from the air," said Aspacher.

State agents search for drugs in all 88 Ohio counties, working to pull marijuana plants before they hit the streets.

"You're talking thousands of dollars of potential untaxed income and that drug is hitting the street," said Brown County Chief Deputy John Schadle.

Sometimes, authorities say they see the same growers year after year.

But as long as marijuana is illegal in Ohio, they'll continue to confiscate it.

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