Police in the district of Blagoevgrad, in south-western Bulgaria, have seized close to 15 tonnes of cannabis as part of the annual campaign targeting marijuana growers in the region, the Interior Ministry said on September 4.
The area around the towns of Petrich and Sandanski, next to the Greek border, is known as Bulgaria’s cannabis heartland – because of the high temperatures during summer in what is generally a difficult-to-access mountainous region of the country.
It is also one of Bulgaria’s poorest regions, which is why cannabis growers often use the fields owned by elderly people from nearby villages, who are unlikely to be prosecuted and often claim to be unaware that what they were doing was illegal.
The bulk of the marijuana plants, about 13.9 tonnes, came from the village of Lebnitsa in Sandanski municipality and was seized on September 2.
Since the start of August, law enforcement in Blagoevgrad district has announced that it seized about 30.2 tonnes of marijuana plants, mainly in the Petrich and Sandanski municipalities, but also in other parts of the region.
Although the local police department does not keep track of the annual statistics, the amount seized this year seems to have already exceeded last year’s haul, when the Blagoevgrad police said on September 19 2013 that it seized 22.4 tonnes of marijuana plants during the months of August and September.