The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently spent several days in the Virgin Islands cracking down on the proliferation of marijuana crops. Operation Weed Eater was developed and executed as a means of reducing the supply of marijuana on the Islands, specifically St. Thomas where it is particularly abundant.
During the course of the seven-day operation, DEA agents located and destroyed over $6 million in marijuana plants across St. Thomas alone. Agents pulled up more than four thousand individual plants each with an estimated street value of between $1,500 and $2,000. According to the resident agent-in-charge for the DEA, Eric Barnard, the seizures “definitely make a dent” but there is plenty more that needs to be done in the region.
Several agents were brought in from out of town to execute the operation which had between 15 and 25 agents working at any given time during the week long sweep of both St. Thomas as well as St. John Island. The agency utilized two helicopters that were borrowed from the US Coast Guard stationed in Puerto Rico to conduct an aerial survey of the region. There was no special detecting equipment used to locate marijuana crops. The agents simply used their training and agency-issued binoculars and other rudimentary viewing tools to find the plants.
There was no indication given by Barnard or any of the DEA agents involved in the operation as to whether or not any arrests would be made or charges levied against any individuals or groups as a result of the seizures. The plants themselves were collected into large bags and taken to an incineration facility located on St. Thomas.
While Barnard says that there has been a slight increase in the amount of marijuana being distributed throughout the region, DEA agents actually located fewer plants than they did during a similar operation in the same region in 2013 when more than 6,000 plants were found and eradicated.
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