It has been a busy year for law enforcement when it come to finding marijuana plants, the most since 1997.
Ohio authorities have recovered more than 70,000 plants this year. Approximately 9,000 were discovered in Muskingum County which nets a street value of close to $1 million. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz says over the years, most cases have shifted from local drug dealers growing plants, to larger commercial operations involving illegal immigrants.
"Now, instead of trying to mule it across into the United States, these illegal immigrants were here and they’re basically just taking them out into the rural areas of Ohio and trying to find secluded places and trying to manufacture it here," says Sheriff Lutz.
Sheriff Lutz says being a rural community could be what attracts these operations to occur, but law enforcement is working hard to handle the problem, and have had some successes in doing so especially at a site in Adams Mills where police arrested 10 suspects.
"It’s very rewarding to not only keep that million dollars of marijuana off the street, but to get 10 people out of our community and probably out of our country. It’s a win win for everybody."
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray says about half of the 70,000 seized plants are part of commercial growing operations found in Licking, Logan, Muskingum, Portage, and Pike counties.