Sheriff’s Office destroys 16,700-plant pot grow

Marijuana was found in remote area during helicopter surveillance flight
By: Martha Garcia Gold Country News Service
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Even though a marijuana garden was planted in an extremely remote area of Placer County northeast of Colfax, its 16,721 plants were still visible from the air. The color of “ripe” marijuana plants is very distinct, said Placer County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin. “It’s a super bright green color when it’s ready to cut … easy to spot when it’s coming to maturity,” even though growers try to hide the plants under canopies, she said. Erwin said the acre-plus of pot plants had been discovered during one of the regular helicopter surveillance missions detectives conduct this time of year, when marijuana is coming into season. The plants were growing on a large plot of private property that borders Bureau of Land Management land near Secret Ravine Creek, between Colfax and Iowa Hill. In an all-day operation on Wednesday, Placer County Sheriff’s detectives used machetes to harvest the plants, loaded seven cargo nets full of marijuana, and airlifted them out. As a precaution in case there were booby traps, the Placer County Special Enforcement Team had secured the remote location. As detectives and the SET team arrived at the scene, they observed a Hispanic male flee on foot. The suspect was not apprehended but a handgun was discovered within the garden. Getting in and out of the remote site had not been easy. Detectives started out early in the morning and hiked in for four hours from Magra Road to reach the pot grow. “Approximately 20 people were involved in the operation that day,” Erwin said. Although detectives don’t remember discovering any other marijuana gardens on Secret Ravine, it’s not uncommon in the area. “It’s nothing new,” she said, “There are pot grows here in most of our canyons every year,” which are generally planted in April and harvested anytime in August. Erwin cautioned hikers who frequent remote canyons to stay aware of surroundings. “Should they encounter a marijuana grow, they are urged to get out of that area immediately and report what they see to local law enforcement,” she said. Colfax resident Dale Shuttleworth said she and her husband, Alan, and son, Jay, hike in the canyons all the time. However, she said she doesn’t feel they’re in danger because they stay on trails and choose places where they can go safely. “Obviously, we know it goes on,” she said. “We don’t go any place where we shouldn’t go. … You never know what you’re going to find. And the people who own the land may not be happy to have you there.”