Marijuana Grow-Op Search

By October 5, 2010Case Studies
Marijuana Grow-Op Search

Regional Police led mission to search corn crops for hidden marijuana growth operations.  Use the aerial intelligence to confirm if there is an active marijuana growth operation, which will ultimately lead back to the marijuana growth operators.


Date: July 2010
Location: Ontario, Canada

Illegal drug growth operations in ordinary farmers’ fields are extremely difficult to detect.  They are impossible to see from ground level and by the time the local farmer discovers the operation, the drugs have been harvested and are most likely already on the streets.  The only way to confirm if a marijuana growth operation exists in a field is to have a view from the air.  Historically this has meant using expensive and resource intensive manned helicopters.  Manned helicopters are also highly visible so everyone in the area will know the crop is being searched, potentially tipping off the drug operator of the search and stalling the investigation.

In this particular mission, local police were looking to quickly get an aerial view of a corn field suspected of having a hidden growth operation.  The police chose a discrete location at the side of the field as their take-off point.  Since the entire Aeryon Scout system including its cameras can be controlled by a single operator, it was necessary to have only one, unmarked police vehicle arrive at the scene.  And with the Aeryon Scout’s small size, no one in the vicinity of the field would be aware of the search occurring.

At 10:45 the Scout took off vertically from the side of the field, climbed to 80m and quickly scanned the field for crop abnormalities.  Once the field was scanned, several abnormalities were identified and the operator sent the Scout out for closer inspection.  For the next 14 minutes, all abnormalities in the field were investigated and photographed, with a total of 18 photos taken.  All photographs are automatically geo-tagged so the police will always know exactly when and where each photograph was taken.  After inspecting the final abnormality, the operator clicked the home button and the Scout automatically flew home back to its original take off point at high speed.  Total flight time was 17 minutes.


  • Video of crops needed to be streamed in real time to the operator to direct the UAV
  • Higher altitude leading to varying wind conditions meant reasonable wind thresholds needed to be managed
  • Large field required operation of UAV from a considerable distance
  • One single operator to control both the UAV and the camera was desired
  • Photographs required geo-tags for future identification purposes
  • Obstacles surrounding the take-off point required vertical take-off and landing


Mission Facts, including Position Plot, were taken from the Aeryon Scout log file

  • Outdoor Temperature: 21C
  • Flight Duration: 17 minutes
  • Total Distance Travelled: 3200m
  • Max Distance from Take-Off: 1081m
  • Maximum Altitude: 57m
  • Max Speed: 39.6km/hr (11m/s)
  • Wind Speed at Take-off: 4 km/hr
  • Max Wind Speed: 26 km/hr
  • Number of Photos Taken of Target:18
  • Number of Minutes of Video Recorded of Target: 14 ½