Illegal marijuana farms on rise in Utah


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Jun 21, 2007
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A warning from law enforcement: As you get into Utah’s great outdoors this Spring, beware of marijuana farms. More drug cartels are turning to Utah’s wilderness to grow their illegal crops.

Last year, law enforcement tore out marijuana plants being grown on public lands in Utah worth 215-million dollars.

“Many of these are discovered by people out enjoying the outdoors,” observed Carlie Christensen, the U.S. Attorney for Utah. Christensen points out that marijuana growing is big business and serious business. “These are dangerous people.”

The growers are not aging hippies with their own cottage industry. Based on federal prosecutions last year in Utah, they’re almost exclusively Mexican nationals with ties to drug cartels.

Christensen said, “In many instances, firearms were seized in connection with the arrest. Some of them were charged and pleaded guilty to firearms violations. One example I cited was an individual with an outstanding warrant from Las Vegas for the murder of two other individuals.”

Not only are they armed, sometimes the growers booby trap their farms.

Sheriff Cory Pulsipher of Washington County said, “If you come across one of those groves that happens to be really close to cultivation time… they’ve got a lot of value that they’re there to protect. Their value of human life is not the same as ours.” In other words, they will kill to protect their investment.

So what do you look for if you’re out and about in the wild? Officers say watch for whatever doesn’t belong: PVC pipe for irrigation, bags of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides and areas that have been cleared for cultivation.


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