Boy Scout troop finds marijuana operation

Thursday, December 20, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some Kansas City Boy Scouts probably weren't prepared for the adventure they had on an unusual campout this fall, but they are being praised for their reaction when they stumbled across a marijuana growing operation.

The discovery led to the arrest of two people and the destruction of marijuana plants worth about $40,000, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday. The incident happened in September but law enforcement had not released details and will not identify the troop because the investigation is continuing.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp recently awarded the troop a commendation for reporting the find and for help from the troop's leaders in arresting suspects.

"They did the right thing," said Dan Cummings, an Independence police captain who leads the Jackson County Drug Task Force.

About 40 boys from the troop set up an overnight camp at Longview Lake on Sept. 29. When some of the older boys were walking on a wildlife trail about a half mile from camp, they stumbled on a patch of about three dozen marijuana plants, some 5 or 6 feet tall. They took photos on their cellphones and went back to camp.

Brent Parsons, a Kansas City police detective, Scout volunteer and a police commander in camp summoned a park ranger, who called a Jackson County sheriff's deputy.

When the deputy, the troop's adult quartermaster and the Scouts who found the plants went to the scene, they saw five people harvesting the plants. The deputy and the quartermaster caught two of them and called back to camp for more help. Somehow, the appeal for help went out over law enforcement radios as an emergency "officer needs assistance" call.

Soon 17 police cars from across the region screamed into the campsite, bringing dogs and ATVs to search the woods.

"We had officers all over the place," Parsons said. "It was insanely awesome for those kids. Wide eyes, jaws [dropped]. Lots and lots of excitement. It was Christmas times 10."

Officers never found the other three suspects. As they cut down the plants, authorities recovered 5-gallon buckets filled with water and fertilizer and found fertilizer pellets near the plants.

"It was obvious this wasn't wild ditch weed," Cummings said.

The two suspects were released pending further investigation.

Parsons and another officer kept watch over the excited boys through the night.

"We kept [the Scouts] a little closer to the vest in case any of those knuckleheads were still wandering around," Parsons said.

Cummings said the find was relatively small compared with other marijuana operations, but he still appreciated the Scouts' efforts.

"There are some budding detectives there," Cummings said. "Maybe I should offer them jobs."


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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