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Police Use Their "eye In The Sky"

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Halton police find $744K worth of drugs using high-tech pot-spotting drones


Graeme McNaughton, National Post Staff | Sep 13, 2012 11:39 PM ET | Last Updated: Sep 14, 2012 5:11 AM ET















Spotting marijuana plants from the sky isn’t difficult, says Sgt. Jeff Leder of the Halton Police guns and gangs unit, and it’s a lot easier than hunting through thick brush on foot.

That’s where drones come in handy in the war on drugs.

On Tuesday, officers used one of the unmanned aerial vehicles to locate 744 marijuana plants — with a street value of about $1,000 per plant — in a field in the north end of Milton.

“It’s pretty easy to spot.” said Sgt. Leder. “A lot of the spots these growers pick are in farm fields.” The dark green marijuana plants stand out against the other plants, typically corn.

“A lot of these areas are fairly remote and swampy,” he added. “[There’s] a lot of brush, and it is tough for officers to get in there and remove the plant. Seeing from the air, we can get a better idea of where to go in and walk in directly.”

Halton Police have had the drone since 2009, said Sgt. David Cross, and have used it for a variety of purposes, including monitoring crime scenes, crash investigations and search and rescue.

The drone runs on batteries that provide 25 minutes of flight time, according to the manufacturer, Aeryon Labs of Waterloo. The unit returns to its starting point when it detects that the battery is low.

Halton police say the drone is stored in a warehouse, and brought out only when the need arises.

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