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Originally published August 9, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 9, 2007 at 2:47 PM

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About 80,000 pot plants seized in four Washington counties

Marijuana-spotting helicopter crews more than doubled the week's total Wednesday with their largest find yet on Yakama Nation land. A marijuana patch of...

YAKIMA — Marijuana-spotting helicopter crews more than doubled the week's total Wednesday with their largest find yet on Yakama Nation land.

A marijuana patch of roughly 40,000 plants was found on the tribe's closed lands; that's in addition to 11,000 plants found Tuesday. That and other smaller marijuana patches discovered Wednesday increase the previous total from 37,000 plants to nearly 80,000.

"That find was the largest in the state so far this year," said Lt. Rich Wiley of the Washington State Patrol's Narcotics Section. "Good marijuana goes for about $2,000 a pound ... and a good marijuana plant has about a pound of marijuana."

"Calculate the numbers and it's an astronomical amount of money."

Wiley said helicopters from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Guard have been helping spot marijuana growing operations for about a week and a half, and will continue doing so until Friday. He said helicopter crews have found marijuana plants in remote areas of Yakima, Skamania and Klickitat counties; flyovers are scheduled today over Benton County.

Although Wiley did not yet have a county-by-county breakdown, he estimated about 50 percent of the total number of plants found have come from Yakima County.

One of the state's largest marijuana operations was found on Yakama lands during a similar aerial sweep in 2004. Authorities said the 65,000 plants seized from the Satus Pass area would have been worth an estimated $35 million.

YAKIMA

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