About 50 plants are now in possession of the Bay County Sheriff's Office investigators after their air unit searched for the illegal activity over Fountain Wednesday.
"We have a trained spotter who has been to a school who is trained to recognize marijuana from the air, "says Major Tommy Ford. "The marijuana has certain characteristics in the air."
In that search, they arrested two individuals on charges of cultivation of marijuana. Investigators say Donald Nelson was found with two plants in his possession and Jesse Bailey with thirteen.
The air search is part of the federal Marijuana Eradication Program which is funded by the DEA, "We don't do it very often," says Major Ford. "There are certain times of the year when marijuana is growing the growing season, so we concentrate on that area, and we do it largely based on when the dept of agriculture allots us flight time."
Major Ford says the money from the Marijuana Eradication Program funds the air unit for most of each fiscal year. "Reimbursements that we get for this program are actually what we fund for our aviation unit for much of the year, says Major Ford. He says the money helps pay for fuel, repairs, supplies, and maintenance on the helicopters.
Authorities say the 50 plants confiscated had a street value of about one thousand dollars. Cultivation of marijuana is a felony charge.