A New Mexico narcotics task force sent a SWAT team and helicopter to raid a school where students "participate in farming as a context for learning mathematics and science." The raid was apparently part of a larger operation involving the task force, the state police, and the National Guard, in which cops conduct aerial sweeps of rural areas in search of marijuana grows.
"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.
Quite the show of force to make sure the school's 12 students, ages 11 to 14, weren't secretly hiding pot plants among their tomatoes. Or maybe the problem was that the cops mistook the tomatoes for pot. That's happened before, too.