The U.S. Park Police brought a little bit of Bolivia to exclusive Northwest Washington this week when its officers destroyed what police estimated was $300,000 worth of marijuana plants that had been spotted by helicopter in wooded Glover-Archbold Park.
Officers pulled the 119 plants out by their roots Tuesday, several days after spotting them in a clump near several houses across the street from Mount Vernon College, near Foxhall Road and Whitehaven Parkway, said Maj. Richard Cusick.
The pot plants had been spotted from the air several days ago by a Park Police helicopter pilot, and officers surveyed that area of the park from the air and ground to see if anyone approached, police said. But they have no suspects.
"We believe it was somebody familiar with the area," Cusick said, "but there are a lot of transients in Washington" who might have planted the marijuana even though they may not live in the well-to-do neighborhood.
"The marijuana could not be seen from the street, with all the heavy woods and trees and vines," Cusick said.
Cusick said the plants were in a sunny area surrounded by trees.
Park Police pilots have been trained by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to spot patches of the jagged-edged marijuana plant from the air. Pilots returning from other missions, such as rescues, typically return by flying over federal parkland with an eye for the illegal cannabis plant, officials said.
After being pulled from the ground, the plants were burned in a city incinerator in Southwest Washington, Cusick said.
This is the biggest single pot plant haul in the approximately year-long history of a Park Police "marijuana eradication" program, officials said. Park Police officers said that so far this year they have removed 811 plants with a street value of more than $780,000 from various federal park properties in the Washington area.
While the Park Police mission was successful, it was accomplished without the fanfare -- and controversy -- as last week's drug raids in Bolivia in which American-trained Bolivian narcotics police used U.S. Army helicopters to raid cocaine "factories" in the Bolivian mountains.