Marijuana Crops a Growing Concern for Law Enforcers

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    Marijuana Crops a Growing Concern for Law Enforcers

    The latest complex marijuana grow raided in Wisconsin was in Shawano County. Authorities removed about 8,000 plants growing on public land in the Navarino Wildlife Area earlier this week.

    This growing trend has law enforcement on edge and asking the public for help.

    Busting marijuana grows like one in Manitowoc County which consisted of about 50 plants isn't unusual for law enforcement. Finding thousands of plants like the grow in the wildlife area in Shawano County, however, is unusual.

    "We have had numerous marijuana grows that are not quite this sophisticated out in the wild, maybe 80 or 90 plants, so it's not anything new to the area, but the size of it is new to the area," the Department of Criminal Investigation's special agent in charge, Pete Thelen, said.

    In the past two years, several large-scale marijuana grows have been found in Northeast Wisconsin.

    A similar grow in Gresham last fall uncovered another 6,900 plants, and in July of 2008 Oconto County officials found almost 9,000 plants in the Nicolet National Forest.

    "It is alarming. It's a lot of controlled substance coming in to the area," Thelen said.

    Previously contained to the western states, local officials believe huge grows like this are popping up simply because of the availability of land.

    "I think it's just a wider area that not widely used other than deer hunting and time of the year, nature preserves. People aren't out walking in them."

    But it's people, Thelen says, who will help keep these types of grows out of our area.

    "Any time you come across something that isn't normal for the area you're in, by all means leave it and contact local law enforcement."

    By Emily Matesic

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