San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Police Uproot 125,000 Marijuana Plants

THE law reckoned with thousands of marijuana plants towering more than five meters over rented farmland in the rain forested Caribbean slope Saturday. Police destroyed 125,000 plants, pulling them up by hand, hacking them with machetes and finally dousing them with gasoline to burn them in a heap on the land where they were grown.The morning after the owner of the half-hectare finca tipped police off to the three illicit plantings on his land, officers drove, boated and trekked through 50 kilometers of rural, wild terrain, navigating a network of canals by boat before arriving at 5 a.m. Saturday. Accompanied by the owner, whose name police withheld, twelve officers, under the direction of Limón commandant Pastor Reyes, worked until the afternoon in a low-tech slog that is part of their routine as Caribbean-coast cops.What was not routine was the size of the plants, which surprised even Reyes, a veteran in the business of crop eradication.“We found three big plantings with bushes higher than five meters tall, which was astonishing because it was the first time, after many years of working these kinds of cases, that we found plants so tall,” he said in a statement.To reach that height, the plants must have been 8-10 months old, a police spokesman told The Tico Times.Anti-drug police, a separate unit from the national police who destroyed the marijuana, are the officers who carry out most of the marijuana destruction in the country. Figures are not available for the national police, but the anti-drug unit has destroyed nearly 800,000 marijuana plants this year, nearly 540,000 last year, nearly 840,000 in 2003, 1.2 million in 2002, 1.78 million in 2001, and 1.9 million in 2000.

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