Alpine uncovers Sierra marijuana grow
October 7, 2011
A marijuana grow believed to be connected to Mexican drug cartels was found Wednesday about a mile up Fredericksburg Canyon, a few miles from the Alpine-Douglas county line.
Three hunters told authorities they were on Forest Service land when they came upon a half-dozen Hispanic men. Two of the men ran off, the other four began reaching into their pockets as if they had weapons, and the hunters fled the scene.
As they were leaving, the hunters noticed black plastic pipe and round holes in the ground. A water pump was seen in a nearby creek.
The hunters reported what they saw to the sheriff’s office.
On Thursday, Alpine County Sheriff’s personnel conducted a tactical operation and found 365 growing plants. Alpine County Undersheriff Rob Levy said it appeared that 5,000 marijuana plants had already been harvested from the remaining stalk and the grow holes.
Two grower camps were found with fresh food items and marijuana growing racks.
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Levy said growers had trimmed up the lower branches of the pines to help conceal the grow.
“Significant environmental damage was observed as a result of the grow holes, trimmed pines and brush, with commercial fertilizer and pesticides present,” Levy said. “It is estimated that there is between 1-2 miles of poly pipe lying or buried in the ground.”
Levy said he was concerned about the numerous encounters residents have had with marijuana growers in the area.
“(There have been) numerous encounters by citizens, hunters, U.S. Forest Service employees and sheriff’s personnel with Mexican cartel growers in our area who are known to be armed as demonstrated by last year’s arrests of cartel suspects,” he said. “Additionally, the environmental damage from all of the detected marijuana grows, over the last two years, is still present as these sites have not been cleaned up by the federal government due to the lack of funds.”
The grow is a few miles from the Mesa Vista and Foothill Road residential communities of Alpine County, near the Alpine-Douglas County line.