Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the grow was reported by a hunter, and authorities discovered the illegal marijuana grow about ¾ of a mile from the Happy Canyon Shooting Range.
Sheriff’s detectives took two suspects into custody on narcotics and firearm violations and seized about 100 pounds of packaged marijuana that was staged for a pickup in the near future, Hoover said.
The grow had about 1,600 plants and the packaged marijuana had a street value of about $250,000, she said.
Detectives found that the first suspect had put down a loaded rifle when he saw authorities coming, and found a Remington semi-automatic rifle within the grow as well, Hoover said.
Authorities arrested Joel Santoyo Lopez, 27, and Cipriano Arreola Torres, 37, both Mexican nationals who entered the United States illegally, Hoover said. Both were given bail of $50,000 and a request for an immigration detainer — that the county notify the Immigration and Customs Enforcement before releasing them so that ICE can take over custody.
A county Air Support helicopter transported a large amount of trash and toxic chemicals out of the area as well.
“A major focus of these marijuana eradication operations is the removal of the chemicals, poisons and trash that were unlawfully introduced onto our national forest lands,” Hoover said in a statement.
She also advised people to avoid and report areas being used for illegal marijuana grows — since they’re usually on public land near hiking trails and hunting areas — and warned that some suspects are armed and potentially dangerous.