Google Earth helps cops nab suspected marijuana grower

Satellite images capture an Oregon man allegedly growing more than his fair share of medical ganja.

An Oregon man was allegedly caught growing too much of this stuff. CC The Equinest/Flickr

Oregon police have gotten savvy to some satellite surveillance technology: Google Earth.

That's right, the authorities in the southern corner of that state used Google Earth to nab a man suspected of growing more than his fair share of medical marijuana, according to the Grants Pass Daily Courier.

Apparently, the police caught word that Curtis W. Croft had been bragging about the prodigious weed crops he had been cultivating on his property. Checking out Google Earth, the police saw what looked to be satellite images of rows and rows of plants.

After verifying the crops with an aircraft, the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement Team was able to arrest Croft, who was allegedly growing roughly three times as many plants as he was allowed to propagate. According to the Grants Pass Daily Courier, Croft was arraigned on drug charges and released.

This isn't the first time Google Earth has been used to investigate alleged pot growers. In fact, police started using Google Earth years ago to look for illegal crops. In 2006, Wisconsin authorities were able to catch a man allegedly growing several fields of marijuana.

It's impossible to say just how many law enforcement agencies are actively using Google Earth, but one thing is certain: looking at Google's often detailed images is a lot cheaper than flying helicopters or planes, particularly in remote areas. But, there is one downside for police -- the images seen on Google Earth aren't live; they could be weeks, months, or even years old.

(Via the Associated Press)

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About the author

Dara Kerr is a staff writer for CNET focused on the sharing economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado where she developed an affinity for collecting fool's gold and spirit animals.

 

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