Officials confiscated more than 1,000 marijuana plants in a Pueblo raid with a street value of $4.2 million after they were discovered on private property.
The illegal grow operation was near Rye, southwest of Pueblo. According to a news release from the Pueblo County Sheriff’s office, Thursday’s dismantled grow is the fourth in four years believed to be connected to a Mexican cartel.
Two grows had been discovered and dismantled in August 2012 and a third was found and destroyed October 2015.
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The illegal grow was discovered several months ago near where three other “sophisticated, major illegal marijuana grow operations were found on San Isabel National Forest land,” the news release states.
The investigation into Thursday’s operation, named the “Operation Flypaper III,” started when hikers reported seeing men hauling irrigation tubing into the area. DEA agents then did a flyover of the area and spotted the grow site near Gleason Canyon.
Detectives contacted the property owner, who did not know about the grow on his property, and gave permission for officials to search the land and confiscate the plants.
The operation was led by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Narcotics and Special Weapons and Tactics teams with officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Colorado National Guard.