Pot-seeking DEA helicopter crew locates hundreds of plants on Vineyard

A State Police helicopter crew spent two days hovering over the Island in search of marijuana plants - photo Susan Safford

Updated 4:30 pm Wednesday

It has been some years since Islanders were treated to the sight of a low-flying black helicopter’s crew scanning the woodlands and backyards of Martha’s Vineyard seeking homegrown pot, but Tuesday and Wednesday the search returned to the Island.

The crew located almost 460 plants — marijuana was found growing in every Island town — over the two days, according to a police source who asked not to be identified.

The sight of the helicopter hovering overhead generated dozens of call to local police departments and the Dukes County Communications Center.

Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi said his department received calls all Tuesday morning from residents asking about the aerial activity. “Marijuana eradication,” Chief Cioffi said, noting that his department only learned about the flights on short notice and that local officers were not involved in the effort.

The State Police advised local police departments that the Massachusetts National Guard, in a training operation for cadets, was operating in association with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on an annual marijuana search.

The pot search came even as Massachusetts allows the sale of medical marijuana.