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Helicopters to Continue Low-Flying Marijuana Eradication Efforts in Northern California


August 1997

Twelve counties in California will receive a total of $2.7 million this year to fund efforts to eradicate marijuana crops. This summer the county of Santa Cruz received $218,000, part of a three-year grant, to go after dealers and growers of marijuana (Lisa M. Krieger, "Pot spies in the sky irk locals," San Francisco Examiner, July 6, 1997, p. A13).

The money comes from the Campaign Against Marijuana Production (CAMP), a federal program, and is distributed by Governor Pete Wilson's Office of Criminal Justice Planning. Eradication efforts include the use of helicopters to identify marijuana plants, and the use of sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement personnel to arrest growers. During a nine-day period in Santa Cruz last fall, 10 law enforcement personnel and 45 hours of helicopter time were used to eradicate 7,000 marijuana plants and arrest 26 people.

Several people living in the mountains of Santa Cruz have filed complaints with the Sheriff's Department regarding the number of helicopters flying over their homes. "It's noisy, it's scary, there's dust flying -- it's ridiculous and very frustrating," said Valerie Corral, a resident of Santa Cruz. The Sheriff's Department agreed to scale back the number of flight hours and reduce the number of flights.

California Office of Criminal Justice Planning - (916) 445-2841. Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office - 701 Ocean, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4027, Tel: (408) 471-1121.