--2 Low-flying helicopters spotted near Madrid (SLIDESHOW)
Sept. 29, 2016
John Smith took this photograph of a National Guard helicopter parked near a Madrid home during a 2006 eradication mission.
Photo courtesy of John Smith

Low-flying helicopters spotted near Madrid (SLIDESHOW)

The choppers are likely looking for marijuana operations

August 17, 2011, 3:15 pm
By Joey Peters

Yesterday afternoon Marianna Hatten, who owns High Feather Ranch near Madrid, spotted two low-flying helicopters around her property.

Flyover helicopters like this have been around Madrid for the past five years as around late summer and early fall, which is harvest season. They're a part of yearly marijuana-eradication efforts from the Region III Drug Enforcement Task Force, according to a recent SFR cover story.

Region III is one of New Mexico's seven drug task forces. It received around $416,000 in funding for fiscal year 2010. Its operations are clouded in secrecy. Many nearby residents feel the raids are unnecessary.

Hatten, who built the bed and breakfast ranch 12 years ago, didn't make a fuss over these until last year. For a whole day last September, five helicopters and a handful of ground troops with weapons came onto her property without warrant to look for marijuana operations. "It was like a rogue police state," Hatten tells SFR.

Hatten says they came back with only eight pot plants, found just north of her ranch on a neighbor's property.

Yesterday, she saw two unmarked helicopters again and took pictures. The slideshow below are Hatten's pictures, all taken within two minutes. Hatten says the helicopters flew around her ranch for about an hour. Besides being upset over not seeing a warrant from the troops to search her property, Hatten fears that helicopters flying so low could crash into her ranch. The two got low enough to throw a baseball at, she says. 

Click 'captions' in the lower righthand corner for a brief description of each photo. All were taken by Marianna Hatten.


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