Record marijuana haul made in Los Padres National Forest

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Jun 21, 2007
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Ventura County authorities said Thursday they seized a record amount of marijuana growing in the Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai with an estimated street value of more than $205 million.

In all, 68,488 plants were seized, "making this the single largest cultivation seized in Ventura County history," Mike Horne, a sergeant with the Ventura County sheriff's narcotics division, said in a news release.

Sheriff's narcotics investigators found the large marijuana growing operation in June in the Los Padres along the north slope of Pine Mountain. It was east of Highway 33 and south of Lockwood Valley Road, Horne said.

In addition to the plants, investigators also found hundreds of pounds of equipment used at the sites, including tents, propane stoves, sleeping bags, fertilizers, pesticides and "an enormous amount of trash," authorities said in the news release.

The equipment was found at several campsites apparently used by growers.

Detectives said they found a 9 mm handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition for other handguns and rifles.

The remains of deer and other small animals also were found near the camps in what investigators say is evidence of poaching.

"Several water reservoirs, lined with plastic tarps, were found dug into the terrain," investigators said in the news release.

The growers diverted water from its natural course and used it to fill the reservoirs, authorities said. Growers also used gravity-fed irrigation lines to water the marijuana.

"Several thousand feet of irrigation hose was spread throughout the hillside to provide water to the plants," the news release stated.

Workers prepared the growing sites by terracing huge sections of land and removing the underbrush, "leaving only a thin canopy to hide the growing marijuana," the news release stated.

Detectives said they found bags of fertilizer, pesticides and poisons around cultivation areas.

Investigators did not say why they delayed the eradication of the plants until Thursday after discovering them in June.

Investigators had yet to arrest anyone in connection with the Los Padres marijuana cultivation as of Thursday.

Detectives urge those who use the backcountry in the Los Padres National Forest to be on the lookout for marijuana growers. Agents have found some cultivations thanks to information provided by hikes, hunters and others in Los Padres.

"If suspicious activity is found, please notify law enforcement as soon as possible," authorities said in the news release. The past winter's high rainfall produced optimum growing conditions in the mountains, they said.

The latest record seizure follows a similar one in August 2010 when authorities announced they had destroyed 27,961 plants in the Wagon Canyon area of Los Padres. At the time, they called the action the "largest known single marijuana operation in Ventura County history."

Narcotics agents had a record year for marijuana seizures in Ventura County in 2010, and the previous record was just the year before, Horne has said. He heads the sheriff's west county narcotics unit.

In years past, a typical garden might have 5,000 to 7,000 plants, Horne said in 2010. But agents are now finding gardens with 20,000 or more plants.

When agents find a garden, they often wait and keep it under surveillance in an effort to find and arrest those responsible for it, Horne said last year.

So much for the unregulated war on drugs. so instead of 5k plants now it's 20k so who is winning the WOD? Sure as heck isn't LEO or the criminals. It's the taxpayers losing out.
Mutt said:
So much for the unregulated war on drugs. so instead of 5k plants now it's 20k so who is winning the WOD? Sure as heck isn't LEO or the criminals. It's the taxpayers losing out.

Also smokers. You know the drug cartels don't follow safe practices when it comes to pesticides and herbicides.

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