There are many ways that state and federal police can locate marijuana cultivation sites. Some of these techniques are highly sophisticated. Our drug lawyers have received numerous calls and questions about abnormal police helicopter activity in suburban or rural areas, especially during September and October. There is no way to know for certain when a helicopter may be performing surveillance for marijuana cultivation areas, but in the last decade or so police have increased their awareness of techniques used by cultivators to hide their crop. Police helicopters no longer rely on simple visual surveillance in order to pinpoint the location of outdoor marijuana plants. Their helicopters are now equipped with infrared cameras that detect the heat that the vegetation on the ground emits. Marijuana plants also have a higher reflexivity at certain wavelengths, and therefore cops in helicopters can distinguish marijuana from other plants such as corn. This is a complex way of saying that it is easy for police to detect marijuana plants, and thus modern outdoor growing has become increasingly risky. All of these high tech methods are designed to combat traditional camouflage techniques such as growing marijuana plants amongst other crops such as tomatoes.
The legal process of obtaining a search warrant once an outdoor marijuana cultivation operation has been discovered is not that complex. Police officers will typically conduct field surveillance on the ground to corroborate their observations from the air. Cops can either participate in stakeouts, or conduct sneaky but constitutionally legal tactics such as investigating a suspect’s garbage for signs of marijuana cultivation, packaging, or sale. Once a police officer obtains a search warrant it will be quite easy to make entry and seizure of the plants and any evidence associated with the production of marijuana, including cash that mysteriously does not appear in an evidence report. If you have been arrested for marijuana cultivation or feel like you are under investigation contact the marijuana cultivation lawyers at The Herbst Firm for a consultation.