Pot patch picked near Longtown 7/19/2013

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sheriff Dennis Darby and Chief Deputy Chris Franklin investigate a marijuana plot near Longtown Wednesday. The patch was discovered during aerial surveillance in a joint operation with the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. The Panolian photo by John Howell Sr.

Pot patch picked near Longtown

By John Howell

Panola Sheriff Dennis Darby said that cooperation from the Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) permitted a joint operation that led to the discovery of two small patches of marijuana on Banger Road off Highway 310 near Longtown Tuesday.

Darby, flying with MBN officers in a helicopter and pilot from MHP immediately landed at the site and began interviewing people who live nearby. Other officers soon arrived in vehicles to confiscate about 34 plants. The plants were in circular plots about ten yards apart that had been cleared from the surrounding kudzu overgrowth. Although the plots were less than five yards in diameter, the cleared dirt surrounding the growing contraband had made them conspicuous amid the kudzu.

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“You can usually spot it from the air around here,” Darby said.

The site was little over a mile from where, in 2007, officers found a cleverly disguised grow patch and about 60 plants.

 The small growing space had been surrounded by years of intertwined vines and foliage growth, making it impenetrable except through a small trap door built inside a ramshackle shed.

 The trap door had opened into a tunnel of vegetation about 25 feet long that finally led to the growing area. Each plant was growing from a five-gallon bucket that had been mounted on a two-by-four, painted green and staked upright on the ground — to place the plants out of reach of rabbits.

But like the patches found on Banger Road, it was easily spotted from the air.

The helicopter and pilot for Tuesday’s flight were provided by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the sheriff said. Darby said he planned to continue the aerial surveillance flights as often as the aircraft can be made available to his department.

The only resistance encountered during the operation came from a overly friendly brown horse whose lot was adjacent to the kudzu patch. The horse appeared to enjoy the extra attention from the law enforcement officials who had to intervene to keep him from consuming the evidence as they tried to remove it in bags.

Darby said Thursday that no charges have been filed pending further investigation.