Action News 5 Investigates: Weed Killers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Action News 5 Investigates: Weed Killers

You can watch extended video of the search for pot in the player to the right of this story>>>

Action News 5 was recently given exclusive access as state troopers searched for pot in Northwest Tennessee.  Millions of pounds of pot are grown each year in Tennessee, worth a total worth of more than $1 billion.

Sgt. Brad Lund is a pilot in the Tennessee State Patrol's Special Operations Unit...just one member of the longstanding, federally funded Governor's Task Force on Marijuana Eradication.

 "(From the) First of June through the end of September, generally we find marijuana every day," he said.

Lund spends many lonely days in the air, searching vast fields, eyes peeled for pot.

"There's many different types of marijuana plants, and it just comes with training and preparing and having the opportunity to see marijuana in different ways of it being grown," he said.

On a day Action News 5 cameras rode along, Lund cruised Lake County in Northwest Tennessee.  Lake County doesn't yield much cultivated marijuana, but on that day, Lund spotted a single plant.

He quickly sent a radio dispatch to his ground team, who in a convoy, followed his directions directly to the dope.  The team quickly found more plants nearby.  A common tactic by growers, called shot gunning, spreads marijuana plants around to make them more difficult to find.

Two other teams, spread across the state, spend months every year in the exact same way in the battle against growing dope in Tennessee.  Studies rank the Volunteer State as the second largest producer of outdoor marijuana.

Estimates differ depending on the source, but the state estimates it routinely cuts down nearly $1 billion of cultivated marijuana per year.

According to Dave McGriff, the director of the West Tennessee Drug Task Force, growing and selling pot often leads to greater offenses.

"Where there's a marijuana peddler, he can get Ex. He can get methamphetamine. He can get crystal meth. He can get some of the prescription drugs. He can get cocaine," McGriff said.

That's why stopping it at its source is so important, and why these patrolmen like Lund are on a continuous mission, searching the ground from the air...for pot.

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