Harvest is in full swing here in California. Everywhere you can see the explosion of fruit stands along the roads and the numerous farmers markets in the small towns. Having started my own vegetable garden I now know the rewards of patience for letting your crop come into its maturity. What most people don't realize is that behind the scenes of the California law enforcement, another type of harvest is being conducted. The cultivating of marijuana. Eradication is a better word for it. Last week I was able to tag along with the Solano County Sheriff Department for a drug bust on a couple illegal pot gardens in the nearby hills of Pleasant Valley. This is nothing new for them. Every year law enforcement officials bust thousands of these gardens throughout the state. This time would be no different. The same protocol was applied. Find and identify the plants from helicopters in the air, organized your crew of undercover policemen and drug task force officers, and then send in the troops to disperse/arrest the growers on sight while eradicating the crops.
I was on hand to document the eradication of the plants. The law officials had identified about 6000 plant garden and by the time I had arrived, they had sent in their armed police officers to cut down and and haul out the goods. Unfortunately, the press wasn't invited to this part of the event. We would have to wait at the drop point. The wait wasn't that long. Maybe twenty minutes. Then I looked up hearing the buzz of the on coming helicopter bringing in the drugs. It isn't every day you have the county police placing thousands of marijuana plants at your feet. The familiar smell from college was engulfed all around us. As I stood on top of the awaiting dump truck I shot pictures as officers worked to free the plants from their transport nets. It was a surreal feeling to be crawling over literally hundreds of thousands dollars worth of drugs. I kept thinking it was so much fuss over such a simple plant. As I watched the officers pour diesel fuel over the massive pile of marijuana, I grabbed a six foot plant and had Vacaville Reporter photographer Rick Roach take a portrait of me. You never know when another opportunity like this would come again. Something tells me that living here in California, I won't have to wait to long. -M