Agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), along with local law enforcement officers from across the state, have seized more than 30,000 marijuana plants so far this year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said this week.
Each year, BCI agents help local law enforcement officers spot marijuana grows with the help of a helicopter between April and October, when growers typically plant and later harvest the drugs.
Experts at BCI estimate that a fully mature marijuana plant can be worth between $1,000 and $1,500 once processed and sold on the streets. Higher quality plants can fetch up to $2,000.
"Selling and buying marijuana not only leads to more crimes in our communities, but it is also a gateway drug that could lead users to try drugs like heroin and cocaine," DeWine said. "Drugs have destroyed too many lives, and we will do everything we can to prevent further tragedies."
More than 80 people were arrested in connection with this year's marijuana eradication efforts, which mostly focused on southern Ohio, where the growing season is longer with more rural terrain.
In Pike County, investigators seized more than 1,200 plants in August after finding a grow site with suspected ties to a Mexican drug cartel.
This year's marijuana eradication, however, did not turn up as many marijuana plants as 2011, when agents seized about 46,000 plants. The decrease is attributed, in part, due to this summer's high temperatures and lack of rain.