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Record marijuana plant seizure reported by authorities

Photo: The Los Padres National Forest is a common site for illegal marijuana grows. In this 2003 bust, Ventura County firefighters burn marijuana plants chopped down by a narcotics team from a stand being cultivated in the Los Padres National Forest. Credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times Ventura County Sheriff's officials announced Monday they had found the largest single seizure of marijuana plants in their jurisdiction from an outdoor grow operation in the Pine Mountain area of Los Padres National Forest.

La-me-pot-bust Nearly 68,500 pot plants valued at $205.46 million were eradicated after the discovery last week in the rugged mountains north of Ojai, according to a sheriff's statement. No suspects were arrested.

[Updated, 8:26 a.m. July 18: In a breaking news alert sent out earlier, it was incorrectly reported that Los Angeles County officials announced the seizure.]

So far this year, more than 100,000 marijuana plants have been eradicated.

Sheriff's investigators initially found several large plots on the north slope of Pine Mountain south of Lockwood Valley Road.

Investigators were airlifted to other sites on the mountain where they discovered several campsites used by the growers that included tents, propane stoves, sleeping bags, fertilizers, pesticides and "an enormous amount of trash."

They also discovered a 9mm handgun, a .22 caliber rifle and ammunition for a variety of other handguns and rifles, Ventura County Sheriff's officials said.

They noted there was "evidence of poaching" near the campsite including remains of deer and other small animals. Several water reservoirs, lined with plastic tarps, were found dug into the terrain.

Several thousand feet of irrigation hose had been spread throughout the hillside to provide water to the plants on "huge sections" of terraced land. Bags of fertilizer, pesticides and poisons were also found within each of the cultivation areas.

The Ventura County Fire Department, Oxnard Police Department and the U.S. Forest Service also participated in the operation.

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Photo: The Los Padres National Forest is a common site for illegal marijuana grows. In this 2003 bust, Ventura County firefighters burn marijuana plants chopped down by a narcotics team from a stand being cultivated in the Los Padres National Forest. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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