Police seize more than 900 pot plants

Photo courtesy of Trumbull Ashtabula Group More than 900 marijuana plants were seized earlier this week in Trumbull, Mahoning and Ashtabula counties following an aerial surveillance operation.

WARREN — More than 900 marijuana plants were seized by police with the help of an airplane Tuesday and Wednesday in Trumbull, Mahoning and Ashtabula counties.

“It’s an operation we do every year … we fly over and locate marijuana being illegally grown, either on vacant properties, farmland, sometimes even on private property,” said Tony Villanueva, a captain with the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office and commander of the Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force.

Eight hundred twenty-five plants were taken from Trumbull and Ashtabula counties, Villanueva said. One hundred nine more were taken from Mahoning County, said Larry McLaughlin, a sergeant with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and commander of the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force.

Villanueva said plants were taken from almost every community in Trumbull County. The flyover in Trumbull County was Tuesday. It happened in Mahoning County on Wednesday.

“Some had four or five (plants), some had a dozen, some had as many as 40 plants at the location,” he said.

Both men disputed notions the effort was a waste of resources.

“This marijuana is being grown illegally. It’s the law, it’s illegal to do it … here’s the thing, people are selling this. It’s not regulated, it’s not medicinal. We don’t know what type of chemicals are used to grow this plant,” Villanueva said.

The operation also helps farmers whose harvesting equipment can be badly damaged by the wire and rods put on the ground by the growers to secure the plants, McLaughlin said.

“At the end of the day, if we were able to save some of these local farmers, I think it was a win,” he said.