July 26, 2008

Authorities Eradicate Over 7,000 Marijuana Plants

By Ventura County Star, Calif.

Jul. 26--Authorities removed approximately 7,250 marijuana plants from the Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai on Wednesday.

The illegal plants were discovered through aerial reconnaissance earlier this month in a drainage area stretching from Wheeler Gorge Campground to Rose Valley, according to Ventura County Sheriff's Department officials. The eradicated plants had a potential street value of more than $14 million.

The growers used three makeshift campsites, which were littered with trash, irrigation pipes, camping equipment and chemical fertilizers, authorities said, adding that stream deviation, tree and brush removal and landscape terracing at marijuana growing sites are known to cause significant environmental damage.

No arrests have been made in connection with the discovery, but authorities believe those responsible are tied to a drug trafficking organization.

Two men were arrested after 68,000 marijuana plants were seized in the forest on July 14 and July 15. Those plants had an estimated street value of more than $306 million, authorities said.

Department officials are reminding the public of the potential danger to anyone who might come across an illegal marijuana growing site accidentally. Sometimes the growers are armed or have booby-trapped the site, authorities said.

Anyone with information regarding illegal marijuana cultivation can call local law enforcement or Ventura County Crime Stoppers at 385-TALK or 494-TALK for Thousand Oaks and Moorpark.

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. Callers may remain anonymous.


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Copyright (c) 2008, Ventura County Star, Calif.

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