Friday, May 28, 2010

When detective work becomes yard work

This item cracked me up, from Raw Story:

Like the old song goes, one of these things is not like the other...

However, remind a police officer in Corpus Christi, Texas of those famed Cookie Monster lyrics and they're likely to give you an annoyed look.

That's because a recently discovered cache of plants, initially pegged by officials speaking to local news as "one of the largest marijuana plant seizures in the police department's history," turned out to be a relatively common prairie flower of little significance.

Texas officers ultimately spent hours laboring to tag and remove up to 400 plants from a city park, discovering only after a battery of tests that they had been sweating over mere Horse Mint, a member of the mint family -- effectively turning their ambitious drug bust into mere yard work.

The plants, which bear very few aesthetic similarities to cannabis, were reported by an unnamed youth who came across them while riding a bike in the park around 8 p.m. on Thursday. Upon visual inspection, police apparently agreed that the inoffensive plants had to go.

My favorite part is that as the officers pulled weeds in the park, they actually counted the number of plants, probably gleeful at the size of the "crop" being seized. In fact, reported KRIS-TV, "officers only stopped collecting the plants because it got too dark, and planned to return in the morning to look around for more." For the record, via Wikipedia, here's what horse mint looks like:

And here's a mature, female marijuana plant:

I realize most of you aren't trained, professional observers like Corpus Christi police officers, but do you think you'd be able to tell the difference?

I've got some weed pulling that needs to get done in my yard, but it's probably not worth the hassle of false criminal allegations to get the cops to take care of it.


doran said...

The only thing keeping this story from being a total HOOT is the realization of what could have happened if these dumb-ass cops had found the horsemint growing in some private person's back yard, rather than in a park.

These guys would have found an equally dumb-ass JP who would probably peed his or her pants in excitement at issuing a search and arrest warrant. Then they would have busted down doors, terrorized some totally bewildered citizen. And maybe even shot someone. Shit! People can get killed when cops make this kind of mistake.

From where did Corpus hire these guys? Cops'R Us?

Horsemint is ubiquitous in the sandy lands east of Austin. There are probably a couple of million plants per acre in most pastures this year.

But even more likely to get a gardner busted are okra, Althea [Rose of Sharon], and Kenaf. The latter, which is member of the same family as the first two, is an almost dead ringer for maryjane.

By the way, the horsemint pictured is not the same as that growing in Bastrop, Lee and other counties to the east. The stuff around here looks even less like marijuana than that pictured.

Anonymous said...

I fear for my profession!

Anonymous said...

Mercy! I laughed so hard my sides hurt!

These Crack Operative Professional Sleuths aka COPS must have been trained by TDCJ.

Anonymous said...

I'm with doran: I don't mind these fools wasting time digging up weeds..except that they are armed with the police power and have the courthouse backing them up. Someone could easily been have been hurt or killed over their ignorance.
Retraining at the least, though from experience, I would expect nothing to be done.

Anonymous said...

This post is fascinating to me because I've recently thought about this when it comes to illegal poppy plants. See, only one species is statutorily prohibited: Papaver Somniferum. However, there are about 20 other species that all look identical in shape, and produce the same chemicals (opium alkaloids) that the prohibited species produces, except in lower quantities.

Further, gardening clubs and flower enthusiasts love the different types of flowers that the poppy produces, AND the seeds are sold in gardening stores, flower shops, and at the grocery store in the spice aisle. But if ONE of those seeds produces the species that is prohibited (and the poppy seeds you buy in the spice section of the grocery store almost certainly will be the somniferum type), you could be in a ton of trouble.

My experiment would be to plant a boatload of these seeds all around my upperclass residential neighborhood and then send in an anonymous tip. The police and swat team bust down doors, I'm arrested, the plants are all pulled up, and then I go to jail. What now?

Note: there is only one case in the nation that I'm aware of where someone was actually busted for growing opium plants. None where there was a false-positive (but legal variety) poppy plant.

One more thing: I just planted a boatload of poppy plants in my FRONT yard. All of them are of the legal variety though.

Anonymous said...

"My experiment would be to plant a boatload of these seeds all around my upperclass residential neighborhood and then send in an anonymous tip. The police and swat team bust down doors, I'm arrested, the plants are all pulled up, and then I go to jail. What now?"

Go to jail 10:12 for making a false report.

R. Shackleford said...

What a bunch of dipsh*ts. Doran is correct, I shudder to imagine the scene of horror and mega ineptitude had that little twit erroneously peached on some old lady's herb garden. And yet we trust these fools to run around with guns, tasers, and the authority to incarcerate us. What's next? Lightning swat raids on my wife's geraniums? Putting SCRAM tethers on ferns who might violate probation? Seriously, what a pack of idiots.

Lori Wilson said...

Gee, can you send these idiots up to Northern California? We have an obnoxious (yet somewhat pretty) weed, locally called Marlahan mustard - it grows EVERYWHERE! We wouldn't mind some help in getting rid of it.

Anonymous said...

This DID happen to a woman in Austin win the last couple of years.