Agents and deputies from several federal and county agencies arrested four immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally, seized 4,213 marijuana plants and dismantled an elaborate grow operation constructed in thet San Isabel National Forest, authorities say.
According to an account by Fremont County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Megan Richards, the suspects set up an elaborate illegal marijuana grow operation south of Salida that was complete with irrigation piping and pesticides.
The four suspects, whose names have not been released, had a handgun, camping gear and trash. When sheriff’s deputies and agents from four federal agencies finished dismantling the grow operation, they had a pile of about 1,500 pounds of pot-growing infrastructure.
Agents from the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office, and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.
The raid began at about 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“The cultivation of marijuana on National Forest System lands poses problems for law enforcement, the public, and the environment,” Richards said. “Safety concerns can range from booby traps, armed growers, and contact with hazardous/ toxic chemicals.”
She said the illegal marijuana grows can also damage riparian areas, harming or killing wildlife.
Richards cautioned citizens to immediate leave a pot grow site the same way they entered the area and call 911.