Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson, right, and deputy Zach Jones stand next to a marijuana plant found  Thursday in a growing operation at a home on Highway 137 in Texas County about two miles north of the Howell County border.

Officers from the Texas County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol made arrests Thursday in two marijuana growing operations in Texas County.

One of the busts occurred at a home on Highway 137 a couple of miles north of the Howell County border, while the other was at a residence on Victor Road near Elk Creek.

Probable cause statements have been sent to the county prosecutor in both cases, and charges are pending against one man in the Highway 137 case, and one or two persons in the Victor Road case.

The Highway 137 man is known to have an extensive criminal record in California, authorities said.

The pot busts were both made possible in large part because Thursday was the first day that a National Guard helicopter was available for use by the highway patrol in spotting growing operations.

Equipped with information provided by the sheriff’s department about locations possibly worth checking, troopers from Troop G in Willow Springs ride as spotters while guard pilots do the flying.

Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson said that in both of Thursday’s cases, plants were seen from the air in the yard of each home.

“Day one of spotting season was pretty successful,” Watson said.

Watson recently received a letter from the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association indicating that the TCSD’s application had been approved for a funding grant through the Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program.

The approval means the agency will receive $2,250 for use in payment of deputies and officers’ overtime and reserve officers salaries while those deputies and officers are actively engaging in the marijuana eradication process.

“That gives the deputies a little extra incentive to work on the program,” Watson said. “And it’s a program that has been very successful.”

 

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