Wash. Vineyards Flush With Pot Crop

110K marijuana plants already confiscated this year
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Aug 10, 2008 4:50 PM CDT
Andy den Hoed, left, a wine grape grower in south-central Washington, talks with his neighbor Jan Blair about tapping into his well, Friday May 30, 2008.    (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Washington state is cracking down on drug dealers' latest innovation: Using vineyards to secretly grow marijuana crops, the AP reports. Police have made 22 arrests this year and confiscated 110,000 pot plants from the Yakima Valley alone, worth more than $100 million. But tracking dealers isn't easy: Some are in Mexico and others buy farms with fake names in quick cash deals.

Dealers have long used Washington's central valley as a pipeline to drug markets in Portland and Seattle. Now, with recent Canadian and Mexican border crackdowns, they have expanded from the state's cornfields and national forests to vineyards. "They are able to amass a huge amount of money and are using that money to go out and buy land to do their marijuana cultivation," a policeman said. "It's their big moneymaker." (Read more marijuana stories.)