Law enforcement officials invaded a large marijuana farm in southern Utah Monday, confiscating and destroying between 6,000 and 8,000 plants.
Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said two weeks ago his office suspected an illegal site somewhere in the Panguitch area when two teenage girls were hiking and were approached by a gunman.
“We had an individual come into the canyon close to Panguitch and approach a group of girls. This man was armed and he was demanding a cell phone from the girls,” Perkins said.
One man has been arrested in connection with the illegal operation. Police say Pedro Guerrero–who was previously deported–is in custody, but isn’t cooperating. Authorities are still looking for others believed to have been managing the site.
Perkins said the skilled growers created an elaborate irrigation system and had tapped into Panguitch’s water system. The plants had been growing for almost three months, and the crop was nearing harvest.
The other men weren’t at the site during Monday’s raid; however, they were likely not far since dinner was cooking on the stove and a large supply of food was on hand including hundreds of tortillas.
Just three weeks ago, drug enforcement officials confiscated more than 12,000 marijuana plants following a tip from hikers who discovered the massive pot farm in Davis County, Utah. Click here to read more on that story.
In 2009, authorities confiscated nearly 84,000 marijuana plants from public lands in Utah. Sue Thomas, a spokesperson with the Drug Enforcement Administration said they need tips from the public since drug cartels typically grow the plants in remote locations only accessible on foot. “We do rely heavily on the public because there is a lot of ground to cover out there,” she said.
But authorities warn hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to exercise caution if they encounter a marijuana farm. “They are using gang members to guard these sites, or even the growers themselves will set up camp and live there. So you have to be very cautious if you encounter one,” Thomas said.
Drug task forces created a website to promote safety and to help people identify marijuana plants. Click here to learn more about How to Recognize an Illegal Marijuana Garden.
Watch the KSL news video and view photographs of the marijuana growing site in the slideshow below.
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Source: KSL news
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