Pensacola News Journal, FL
It's getting harder to hide a marijuana plant from prying airborne eyes.
The Escambia County Sheriff's Office teamed up with state and other county agencies to confiscate more than 1,000 marijuana plants as helicopters flew over backyards, greenhouses and remote fields in a four-county area this year.
With plants valued at $1,000 each, that's a good chunk of an illegal crop destined for the incinerator.
"We found a lot of dope, and we did a lot of good," said Aaron Brown, a deputy and an aircrew observer on the helicopters. "We've found more plants this year, and we're dedicating more training and more time to do it."
Escambia's two choppers flew missions over Escambia County and helped neighboring Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties. The teams also flew joint missions with Florida Department of Law Enforcement helicopters, Florida Fish and Wildlife aircraft and crews with the Florida National Guard.
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office has not yet decided whether it will replace an aircraft that was lost in a 2003 crash. Both crew members survived the crash, and the observer, Sgt. Todd Smith, has returned to duty in the Pace precinct.