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Helicopter at staging area for 2016 MCSO marijuana eradication operation - (photo by Gina Clugston)

Feds Giving County $136K to Combat Illegal Pot Grows

MADERA — The Madera County Sheriff’s Office is receiving some help from the federal government in its fight to wipe out large-scale, illegal marijuana grows in the county.

This week, Madera County supervisors are expected to approve the receipt of $136,400 from the feds, money that will help fund MCSO’s ongoing “cannabis eradication” activities.

Helicopter delivers net full of marijuana during 2016 MCSO operation (photo by Gina Clugston)

The annual funding is part of the federal government’s decade-long fight to aid local law enforcement jurisdictions in combating illegal pot grows.

The Sheriff’s Office has been awarded funds since 2009 for the purpose of marijuana suppression as part of the Federal Domestic Cannabis Eradication Program (DCESP), which is administered like a federal grant and requires no matching money from the county.

“The federal government determines the allocation and we spend it accordingly and in conjunction with their reimbursable expense rules,” said Sheriff Jay Varney. “Without the DCESP money, the Sheriff’s Office would have no program to combat large scale illegal outdoor marijuana production in Madera County.”

The program funds any overtime department activity associated with or related to marijuana suppression, including search warrants and surveillance. It also funds flight time for aerial surveillance of new grow sites or areas with past grow sites by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft.

The program also allows for miscellaneous services and supplies to be purchased, with 10 percent of the funding earmarked to buy new equipment for the Sheriff’s Office to use in its efforts to eradicate illegal cannabis grows around the county.

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