The growing season is just beginning and illegal marijuana growers are still looking to the remote mountains of Lincoln County.
Arrested last week was a man who Sheriff Kerry Lee believes was part of a group apparently planning a new marijuana grow. He said it appears, ?they were just about ready to get started on this one.?
Teodoro Avalos-Linares, 35 of Menifee, Calif., was arrested April 1 and charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Lee said nearly all of the other grows that have been found have been in the mountains south of Caliente, but this new find is east of the Mount Wilson range.
He said a Nevada Fish and Game Ranger had come across a 2005 Chevy Pickup with Washington state plates, on the back roads toward Spring Valley, driven by Avalos-Linares. A wildlife biologist had first reported some suspicious activity in the area a bit earlier and the Ranger had gone out to investigate the pickup truck, which Avalos-Linares claimed was broke down.
Lee said the ranger suspected something more and called the Sheriff?s Department late in the afternoon April 1. Lee sent one of his officers and a member of the Eastern Nevada Narcotics Task Force from Ely, who happened to be in Pioche working another case. ?I diverted them off that to go out to Mount Wilson.
Later a state parks officer was also sent to the scene along with a narcotics K-9 unit. Lee said the dog ?hit on the vehicle and also found were items that are typically used in outdoor marijuana grow operations.?
Lee said he suspected Avalos-Linares was not alone, but with one or two others, but they were not found. ?We found other sets of fresh footprints in the area that did not match his.? A second vehicle was also suspected, but could not be located.
A wider search of the area the next day found items believed Avalos-Linares had removed from the pickup and hidden nearby. Found were a couple of thousand feet of black plastic pipe, ground cultivating tools, large black tarps, fertilizer, Miracle Grow, sprayers, etc. And the dog located a container of ?several thousand marijuana seeds.?
Lee said, ?It is our belief that they were in the process of expanding an existing grow. As we widened the search area with our officers and help from the Eastern Nevada Narcotics Task Force, Fish and Game, BLM, Forest Service and DEA Task Force April 2 to a couple of miles or more, we were able to locate what looked to be an abandoned grow area from several years ago.?
?It is so thick with trees in the area,? Lee said, ?with multiple water sources.? He said Mt. Wilson was an area where there had been some suspicion, but when we searched there a year ago, but didn?t find anything. It might be this group was hoping to continue there. We don?t think they had enough for a new grow, but rather to expand an old grow.?
Apparently, the group was planning for a long stay as well because officers found abundant amounts of canned foods, potatoes, cook stoves, dish soap, sleeping bags, backpacks, batteries, ?all kinds of stuff,? Lee said.
Avalos-Linares is being held in the County Detention Center after charges were submitted to the District Attorney. All of the property was impounded for evidence.
Lee cautioned, ?We want people going hiking or hunting anywhere, to be vigilant and report to us any suspicious activity they may see such as foot trails where normally heavy foot traffic would not be, and vehicles parked in odd areas for possibly extended periods of time, etc.?
He said outdoor marijuana grows may not be as popular as they once were, as many have gone to indoor grows in abandoned houses in the city, ?but outdoor grows are still very popular and definitely not a thing of the past, and we are going to be working hard this summer to put a stop to it.?