NM cops raid Montessori School greenhouse for pot, find tomatoes

New Mexico state cops swooped in for a daring raid on a Montessori School greenhouse, where they were growing tomatoes, not pot.
"We were all as a group eating outside as we usually do, and this unmarked drab-green helicopter kept flying over and dropping lower," she said. "Of course, the kids got all excited. They were telling me that they could see gun barrels outside the helicopter. I was telling them they were exaggerating."

After 15 minutes, Pantano said, the helicopter left, then five minutes later a state police officer parked a van in the school's driveway. Pantano said she asked the officer what was happening, but he only would say he was there as a law-enforcement representative.

Then other vehicles arrived and four men wearing bullet-proof vests, but without any visible insignias or uniforms, got out and said they wanted to inspect the school's greenhouses. Pantano said she then turned the men over to the farm director, Greg Nussbaum.

"As we have nothing to hide, you know, they did the tour and they went in the greenhouses and they found it was tomato plants and so that was the story," she said.

Pot raid at school turns up tomatoes (Thanks, Matt, via Sumitterator!)

(Image: Cherry Tomatoes, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 9229859@N02's photostream)

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  1. Reading the whole story it only gets better. Not only did this crack group of cops assault a small school’s (12 students!) greenhouse, a few days before it did a 20 man, 10 hour raid on another person and found 35 pot plants, all of which were clearly visible from the ground and air.

    Apparently this is what the police from the Naked Gun movies do when not shooting.

  2. They cruise around with infrared cams looking for signs of grow lights and other hydroponic equipment that could mean a pot growing operation. I guess that is all the cause they need to do a search, I wonder if a warrant was even produced in this instance.

    Personally I think it’s absurd that this kind of money is being spent looking for people who grow plants.

    1. “They cruise around with infrared cams looking for signs of grow lights and other hydroponic equipment that could mean a pot growing operation”

      I’m prety sure the supreme court ruled that as an unlawful search. The need a warrant for a infrared scan.

      1. “I’m prety sure the supreme court ruled that as an unlawful search. The need a warrant for a infrared scan.”

        That is why the operating procedure is to use the results of the scan to tell the confidential informant which house to finger. Then the warrant to raid the house is acquired based on the information given to the police by the informant.

  3. Why, why didn’t they have a school-ful of adorable 4-6 year olds lying face-down on the pavement? And I suspect the local Waldorf school is much more likely to be growing pot…

  4. The War on Organic Produce continues to go well. Each of those tomatoes cost the taxpayer $75.00 US! WE WILL NOT BE SATISFIED UNTIL THE DRUG CZAR IS RUMOURED TO CURE GOUT BY WASHING THE FEET OF THE AFFLICTED.

    Seriously: What the fucking fuck fuck happened to Probable Cause in this day and age? “We’re spending $20,000 on this operation because we herd thai leik mudkips, so we kipped in thair mud so thai can mud whail thai kip.” In the immortal words of Plato, NON FUCKING SEQUITUR is NOT a RIVER in EGYPT!

    “What else floats the same as a Cannabis Sativa plant??? – er, WOOD! – Good, what else? – well, tiny rocks. – OH! A DUCK! – Right! So if the suspects are raising ducks — THEN THEY’RE RAISING POT! – WELL /DONE/!”

    Law Enforcement by Superstition is horse-shit.

    1. Dude, beautiful. Seriously, well done. A good Holy Grail reference is never out of place. Especially when real life seems to follow the script.

    2. You nailed it mate. Sometimes there just isn’t enough frustration…

      Almost makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t just smoke a bowl and settle the fuck down…

      1. “Almost makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t just smoke a bowl and settle the fuck down…”

        If we did not keep the population in a perpetually agitated and depressed state, who would fight our corporate wars for us?

  5. “As we have nothing to hide, you know…” Those are coward’s words. I suspect having a green house isn’t probable cause, they needed permission to search the greenhouse.

    All those law enforcement representatives were probably there, in unmarked bullet proof vests, to just make sure you felt safe.

  6. So, anyone know a rogue genetic scientist or two that could splice THC producers into a tomato plant? I’ve always seen eating THC as more socially acceptable anyway.

    1. Thank you, that’s exactly what I was going to say. No uniform, no insignia, that’s some bullsh*t!

    1. Not quite, fascists wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a uniform that didn’t have a little Liberace-esque flare to it… you know, shiny boots, sashes, etc…

  7. The last paragraph is the saddest:

    “We’re sitting here as a teaching staff, always short on money, and we’re thinking, ‘Gosh, all the money it takes to fly that helicopter and hire all those people, it would be great to have this for education.’ ”

  8. That sounds like a learning experience. Another learning experience could involve taking the NM State Police to court, and allowing the kids to participate in real life civil lawsuit.

  9. Background info on Region 3

    The background on local PD problems , it’s not a rosy situation in Santa Fe, and I don’t think anyone can complain about their tax dollars unless they live in Santa Fe.

    I think this singular post doesn’t address the underlying problems or give pertinent background information. Sure it makes a good headline and lets the trolls come out to play but by it is by itself selective and devoid of proper context. Hopefully the links above will provide context for those interested in the full situation.

  10. I wish it was lawful to (on my property) smack a cop for jumping the gun, with the same intent as “two for flinching”.

  11. Couldn’t this grown-up business been conducted at a time there wasn’t a gaggle of children roaming about the yard?

  12. “they did the tour and they went in the greenhouses and they found it was tomato plants and so that was the story”

    Best part. I like to think that it went down like this…

    Drug raid task force arrives, armed to the teeth, demands to see the greenhouse. Bespectacled Birkenstock-wearing headmaster (portrayed by Bob Balaban) cheerily says “Oh, you’d like the tour? Normally we prefer that you call ahead, but we never turn away people wanting to know more about the school. Right this way, gentlemen…”

  13. Alternate tour:

    Jan Hooks takes them around in a heavy Texan accent, tells them about tens of thousand uses of corn as they wait impatiently, and laughs at them for wanting to see the basement.

  14. Good thing there weren’t any dogs there for them to shoot in front of the kids.

    No uniform? No surprise. The drug war has been operating beyond oversight for decades anyway.

    Take a good look, kids. This is your future if we don’t throw out the draconian drug laws and restore some semblance of civil rights.

  15. I used to live in New Mexico, and this doesn’t surprise me at all. In New Mexico, the state troopers pay for giant billboards advertizing the fact that they need to hire more troopers, and a GED is enough to get the job. The cops in Santa Fe once had a full-blown, guns-blazing, all-out firefight with a suspect in a packed intersection at 3:30pm a block away from the biggest school in town. Parents and kids were cowering in their vehicles, praying they didn’t get hit. The best part: when they finally apprehended the suspect, he didn’t have a gun. The cops had surrounded the suspect on all sides, one nervous/excited cop had shot at him, some other cop on the other side had assumed that the shot had been fired by the suspect, and the whole thing was just idiot cops with GEDs shooting at each other for no reason.

    New Mexico’s criminal justice system is so backwards it defies belief. I once went to traffic court there. The girl ahead of me, there with her mother, was a 16-year-old or 17-year-old who had been arrested for not paying a speeding ticket, and thrown in the adult jail instead of the juvenile jail by accident. I also knew another woman who was taken to jail for a similar trivial infraction (unpaid tickets, probably), and she spent 19 days in jail without being arraigned. When the jailers figured out what they’d done, they tore up her paperwork and sent her home, and she was thrilled about it. I asked her why she didn’t sue, and she looked at me like I was crazy.

  16. While New Mexico has vestiges of being a banana republic there may easily be a more bureaucratic rational for the lunacy of that tomato pot raid behavior …

    Having spent alot of time living and working in and around the area before I left 10 years ago, I was rather shocked to learn that the Española/Chimayó area has the highest rate of heroin addiction and fatal overdoses in the US:

    The Pastoral Clinic, Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande by Angela Garcia
    http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520262089

    In my visits, I’d heard grumblings about a problem, but never anything specific until I noticed this recent book on the subject. Clearly the feds are now on the case, and looking to stamp that out the only way they know.

    Unfortunately the current drug crises appears to have arisen reflecting back the great cultural and economic divisions which permeate that desert landscape.

    1. Unfortunately the current drug crises appears to have arisen reflecting back the great cultural and economic divisions which permeate that desert landscape.

      The largest of which cuts across the border between Mexico and the United States.

      The success of the war on drugs in South America has pushed the cartels to refocus their operations in Mexico. Their are lots of article(s) concerning cartel violence along and across the border.

      We need price tags. Every one of these “heroic” police actions should have a publicly posted price tag in the journalists’ articles, so that when the vote comes to that state, this shit stops

      I think that is a rather short sighted take on things. Cutting money to the police agencies is likely to make mistakes like this more common.

      If anything there needs to be more police, the more police the smaller their beats become and the better they get to know the local citizens. The more the police know the local citizens the fewer mistakes like this happen.

      1. These are not beat cops. They would seem to be the DEA jackbooted thug variety, judging from their tactics, and I doubt any of them bother to “get to know” any of the people they are supposedly serving and protecting.

        The price-tag is a good idea, because our nation has spent billions of dollars to keep people from growing relatively harmless (and medicinally amazing) plants, trampling on millions of lives to do it. It can no longer be justified when one has the facts.

        1. Did you read the backgrouder? The 3 region task force is a mix of different organizations including State and Local police the DEA by itself can’t handle all the problems along the border It is completely plausible that these folks were just local area cops. Before you jump to conclusions do your research. Now we can’t say for sure but we know the task force is made up of many police agencies and we can’t positively conclude which one it is.

          Region 3 Stats shows that the taskforce is mostly chaired by state and local agencies.

          I won’t argue with you about the politics of weed. But I don’t think publishing the price will serve as a deterrent as you envision it. I also think you sound hyperbolic in your portrayal of the authorities.

  17. Cuz, you know… everybody is guilty until proven innocent here in the Age of Terror.

    And even then, ya might have to suffer some kind of consequence – just because.

  18. We need price tags. Every one of these “heroic” police actions should have a publicly posted price tag in the journalists’ articles, so that when the vote comes to that state, this shit stops.

  19. The funny part is that the Commerce Clause decision (Gonzales v. Raich) that enables key parts of the the War on Some Drugs is the same Commerce Clause decision that is being used by the government to support the new health care mandate (State of Virginia v. Sebelius). So if the anti-Obamacare types want to prevent things like mandatory health insurance purchase they also have to gut federal drug enforcement efforts.

    In other words: the War on Some Drugs is enabled by exactly the same government overreach that its supporters claim to oppose.

  20. What I find most distressing is that these cops went in “locked and loaded”, “ready for action!!” into a school full of children based on suspicion that the wrong kind of plants were growing there.

  21. All kinds of things wrong with this situation…

    … and it is a small thing but drug enforcement officers who can’t tell a fucking tomato plant from a pot plant? HELL-O, the average garden club lady could manage that. We’re not talking advanced botanical taxonomy here. This is not the first time we’ve seen law enforcement confuse salad bar materials for a more profitable crop.

    Yow.

  22. HOORAY for growing tomatoes at school!

    THESE are kids who will never answer “Safeway!” when asked where tomatoes come from, thank goodness!

  23. Maybe the nice people from New Mexico can loan the nice people from California some money, so they can make the California helicopters bust some people for growing tomatoes.

    I hear there are lots of tomatoes in Humboldt county, but they can’t afford to fly their helicopters to go pick them.

    Or something like that.

  24. NM gets back in federal tax dollars more than they contribute. Therefore, you don’t have to have a Santa Fe address to wonder why your tax money is being wasted on this unlawful bs.

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