Operation HEMP

Marijuana plants confiscated during "Operation HEMP"

Marijuana worth thousands of dollars is taken off the streets of Genesee County. The Flint Area Narcotics Group was out in force Friday, taking part in another series of operations collectively known as "Operation HEMP."

"It's a gateway drug. It gets people going into the illegal narcotic," says FANG commander Lt. Pat Richard.

"It" is marijuana, and for growers, this time of year is harvest time. For the Flint Area Narcotics Group, with eyes in the sky and boots on the ground, it's time to hunt, confiscate and destroy.

"It's not as addictive as heroin or methamphetamine, but it's still very serious," Richard said. "Because they'll ... people are still spending money on narcotics, and that money is going to fund all sorts of different things, you know? it's going into the drug dealer's pockets."

One mature marijuana plant can result in a pound of marijuana. One pound of marijuana, according to the DEA, can bring in about $1,000 on the street.

It most definitely is a popular cash crop -- one that this year, like others, has been affected by the drought.

"Has the drought affected us? Probably in a positive way, because our stuff -- their stuff -- is growing. The marijuana is growing, whereas the corn that has not had rain in three or four weeks isn't growing," Richard said.

And that means it's much easier to spot from the sky.

"These people that are growing this, whether they're selling it or for personal use, that's an illegal narcotic," Richard said.

It's an illegal narcotic worth thousands of dollars that, by day's end, is now in the hands of FANG.

The plants will soon be brought to an incinerator, rather than delivered to the streets of Genesee County.