PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - More than 7,000 plants from two illegal grow fields were discovered in Pueblo County on Wednesday.
Law enforcement found 7,438 marijuana plants, assorted grow equipment and makeshift shelters on rugged land located on both private property and San Isabel National Forest land.
5,887 plants on private property and another 1,551 plants on U.S. Forest Service property.
They were tipped off by people that were hiking in the area.
Detectives believe both fields were being operated by the same individuals.
Since August 2012, Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputies have removed more 27,644 marijuana plants from six illegal marijuana grow fields found on or near San Isabel National Forest property in the past five years.
“As we continue to find these large illegal marijuana grows, it’s an indication the black market maintains a strong presence in Colorado,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “This type of activity is not only illegal, but it is detrimental to our mountain environment. We will continue to seek out and eradicate these operations until those responsible for the grows realize it is against the law.”
The Sheriff’s Office discovered the first illegal marijuana grows in the San Isabel National Forest in August 2012, dismantling more than 9,400 plants in two fields. Two weeks later on August 31, 2012, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Captain Leide DeFusco and Retired Pueblo Police Captain John Barger died when their plane went down while conducting air surveillance for other possible marijuana grows in the San Isabel National Forest.
In October 2015, another grow consisting of 2,400 plants was found near Millset Trail in the San Isabel National Forest and in July 2016, 1,000 marijuana plants were found growing on private property near the Table Top Mountain Area.
The first four grows discovered are believed to be connected to drug trafficking organizations based in Mexico. Detectives are still investigating whether the last two grows are connected to the previous operations.