Courtesy photo Thousands of feet of plastic irrigation piping removed from an illegal mountain marijuana grow discovered in Lincoln County Aug. 27.  The raid by combined forces from Bureau of Land Management, Department of Public Safety, Investigation Division, the National Guard and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office netted 5,676 plants with an estimated street value of $17 million.

Courtesy photo
Thousands of feet of plastic irrigation piping removed from an illegal mountain marijuana grow discovered in Lincoln County Aug. 27. The raid by combined forces from Bureau of Land Management, Department of Public Safety, Investigation Division, the National Guard and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office netted 5,676 plants with an estimated street value of $17 million.

Another mountain marijuana grow in Lincoln County was raided August 27, after an investigation involving the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Public Safety Investigation Division, National Guard and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Kerry Lee said the raid took place in the early morning hours and resulted in clearing out and destroying approximately 5,676 plants with an estimated street value of $17 million. Officers also recovered several thousand feet of black piping, chemicals and other supplies that are used in the growing process. Lee said they recovered additional evidence in the area as they cleaned up the site, but no suspects were taken into custody. The investigation will continue.

He said the grow was discovered sometime in July by an aerial reconnaissance flight specifically looking for mountain marijuana grows.

Some of the investigating teams that knew of the location “were collecting intelligence and waiting to try to be able to catch some of the people there,” Lee said. “It looked like it had been abandoned just prior to our going in. But it didn’t look like they had been able to harvest much of the grow either.”

As Lee has said at other times, “Outdoor marijuana growing operations continue to be a problem in states all over the west. What is concerning to law enforcement is that these grow operations are located on public lands. This creates a significant danger to those who enjoy hunting, hiking and just basic outdoor adventure. And it opens the probability of stumbling on one of these grows and being placed in possible danger. Some of the individuals tending these grows may be confrontational with those who may stumble upon it.”

Lee noted this grow was scattered over an area of about half an acre, in steep, rough terrain. “Not as rugged as the one last year, but hilly, rugged terrain.”

Discovered at the site were tents and sleeping bags for about three or four people, fertilizer, garbage, food, batteries, propane bottles and “all kinds of things, you name it,” Lee said.

In a prepared statement Lee said, “Another concern to law enforcement is that these grows are very damaging to the land as these individuals will completely devastate the area with the use of chemicals and destruction of the land to clear an area to grow marijuana. Most of the time, if these individuals do not return to a particular site they will just leave all the piping and chemical in the site with no regard for the land and animals. Law enforcement asks the public to be cautious if coming across items such as small plastic piping, food and garbage, tents and camps in very remote areas. If anyone from the public comes across what they believe may be a grow site, leave the area immediately, if possible obtain GPS coordinates and report this to your local law enforcement.”