Thousands of marijuana plants worth $6.5 million were discovered and destroyed this week by San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies who located two remote growing operations during exploratory helicopter flyovers.
Almost 7,000 plants were found growing on public land in the Cypress Mountain Road area west of Paso Robles. An additional 3,000 were found on Los Padres National Forest land off Hi Mountain Road, west of Pozo.
Marijuana is grown under the canopy of other plants and is difficult to spot by the untrained eye.
“I went on a helicopter and had difficulty finding it myself,” said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla.
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Such large marijuana groves are usually associated with Mexican drug cartels, Cipolla said.
“We wouldn’t want someone to come across that criminal element while hiking,” he added.
Rifle ammunition, 5-gallon propane tanks and large trash piles were also discovered, as well as cigarette butts that pose a fire threat in such dry vegetation.
No one was at either of the sites when the plants were discovered, and no arrests were made. Members of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force and state and federal authorities participated in the investigation.
Cipolla said the marijuana was destroyed in a “legally prescribed way” but declined to elaborate.