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Officials bust up illegal plantation

Deputies team up with federal forces to eradicate thousands of illicit marijuana plants

Posted: July 2, 2010 7:35 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2010 4:30 a.m.

More than 11,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $22 million were found in the Angeles National Forest near Santa Clarita this week, officials said.

Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics and Aero bureaus, in a joint operation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Forest Service, spent Thursday eradicating plants at the sprawling pot farm, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.

No one was arrested in connection with the illegal operation.

The joint law enforcement team wiped out a total of 11,249 illicit marijuana plants in the Knapp Ranch area of Angeles National Forest. The team also removed 1,560 pounds of trash, consisting of hazardous chemical fertilizers, pesticides, food, propane tanks and camping equipment.

They also repaired damage to three streams and removed extensive irrigation systems that suspects used to divert water away from native plants and animals to irrigate the illegal crops.

“These illegal marijuana grows do more

than just harm the people who use illicit marijuana,” Capt. Ralph Ornelas of the sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau said in the release. “They destroy and poison public lands.

“The many agencies involved in these operations will continue our aggressive efforts to clear the public land of this menace, so that the forest remains available for present and future generations,” Ornelas said.

Since May 2010, detectives have eradicated 96,441 illicit marijuana plants from public lands, with an estimated street value of more than $192 million.

Guests who visit nature areas should be cautious of the hazards posed by illegal marijuana farming, sheriff’s officials said.

Suspects guard and even booby-trap their plants against law enforcement and competition.

Also, many of the fertilizers and pesticides used by illicit marijuana farmers involve hazardous substances, some of which are banned in the United States.




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