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Thanks to satellite images from Google Earth, Swiss police were alerted to a cannabis plantation outside of a small village in Eastern Switzerland.

Raperswilen is a sleepy village in the canton of Thurgau, that hardly anyone has heard of, and might have remained that way; had it not been for Google's clear satellite imagery and diligent police work.

Using Google Earth to Find Drugs

In part of a larger police operation last year - that resulted in the arrest of 16 people and seizure of over a ton marijuana - Zurich police narcotics specialist, Norbert Klossner claims this was an 'interesting chance discovery'.

Very interesting indeed; and although the 'cannabis plantation', measuring almost two acres, has since been ploughed over you can view the exclusive pictures here.

Where's The Cannabis

For casual passers-by, the fields around Raperswilen and Hattenhusen would all seem pretty normal.

Fields Around Raperswilen and Hattenhusen

Closing in on Google's satellite maps reveals an interesting change in the pattern of fields.

Interesting Change of Pattern

Then, hidden among the cornfields, something more than a farmer's back-garden starts to take shape.

Cannabis Hidden Among Cornfields

Police officers used Google Earth to locate the address of two farmers, suspected of being a part in the drug operation they were investigating, then spotted the illegal crop.

Zoom in a little more and the 'plants' are clear to see.

Smoked - Farmer's Cannabis Field is Found

Officials told reporters that between 2004 and 2008, the gang is believed to have sold up to seven tons of the drug; illegally earning three to ten million Swiss francs a year.

Gabi Alkalay, the prosecutor for the case, plans to complete her criminal investigation in February, then expects to charge the 16 suspects and seek prison sentences for all of them.

By Michel - with the help of Google Maps.
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