The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office was recently recognized as a state-wide leader in the eradication of outdoor marijuana growing activities.
According to a report issued by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration Domestic Cannabis Eradication Program/Suppression Program and the Florida Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program, Santa Rosa County beat out 56 other participating counties in the state, claiming the most arrests and the highest number of marijuana plants seized and destroyed last year.
A total of 19 suspects were arrested and 1,998 marijuana plants were eliminated in 2009 alone.
Florida's climate and rural landscape make the state a fertile environment for growing the illegal drug. The report acknowledges the Sheriff's Office claim that eliminating the source has a positive reciprocal effect on Santa Rosa County's streets.
"The eradication of cannabis plants at the source immediately strikes a blow against drug dealing and abuse by reducing the availability of marijuana on the street," the report stated. "Eradicating marijuana before it can be cultivated also increases citizen and officer safety and reduces overall investigative costs."
Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, Florida's voluntary Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program has served as a model for other states - and has resulted in the discovery of almost 30,00 grow sites in Florida and the arrest of what the agency calls 13,000 "cultivators" state-wide.
"We are very proud of the recognition bestowed upon our agency and our dedicated staff," said Sheriff Wendell Hall. "We will continue to utilize whatever resources we have at our disposal to help eradicate drugs in Santa Rosa County."