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Pot farm busted in Angeles National Forest

Posted: July 2, 2010 12:30 p.m.
Updated: July 2, 2010 12:30 p.m.

More than 11,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $22 million were found in Angeles National Forest near Santa Clarita on Thursday, 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, performed an illicit marijuana eradication operation on public lands, according to a sheriff's department release.

The team located and eradicated a total of 11,249 illicit marijuana plants from public lands 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 which suspects used to divert water away from native plants and animals to irrigate the illicit crops.

"These illegal marijuana grows do more than just harm the people who use illicit marijuana, they destroy and poison public lands," Captain Ralph Ornelas of the sheriff's Narcotics Bureau said in the release. "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."

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

The public who visit nature areas should be cautious of the hazards posed by criminal marijuana farming, sheriff's officials said. Suspects guard and even booby-trap their plants against law enforcement and competing criminal elements.

Additionally, many of the fertilizers and pesticides encountered in illicit farming operations involve hazardous substances, some of which are banned in the United States.


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