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10 charged in large-scale pot operation on public land

Marijuana plant. Credit: Associated Press

Ten people have been charged with being part of a large-scale marijuana growing operation on public land in Riverside and San Diego counties, federal law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Six of the 10 were arrested Tuesday, and the other four are being sought, officials said.

Agents searched 15 locations in El Cajon, Lakeside and Valley Center in San Diego County, as well as Temecula, Perris and Hemet in Riverside County. Of the 10 people charged, nine are from Riverside County and one is from San Diego County.

Among the sites used for growing were locations in the Cleveland National Forest and Palomar Mountain, authorities said. The arrests came after a two-year investigation dubbed Operation Mountain High.

"We are not going to hand over our pristine public lands to gun-toting narco-farmers who destroy the landscape and harm the environment with pesticides so toxic that they are banned in the U.S.," said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy at a news conference in San Diego.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Marijuana plant. Credit: Associated Press

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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