Thousands of marijuana plants worth an estimated $3 million were pulled from Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on Friday, authorities said.
Between 2,500 and 4,000 marijuana plants were uprooted from the park's Muddy Canyon area, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Investigators hiked into the rugged area south of the 73 Freeway near East Coastal Peak Park and Ridge Park Road to remove the plants, the Coastline Pilot reported. A Sheriff's Department helicopter flew the pot to a staging area to be packaged as evidence.
An Orange County Parks ranger discovered the plants clumped in two areas, sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said.
While the number of plants is not unprecedented for an illegal marijuana grow, Hallock said, operations of that size aren't typically found so close to urban residential areas.
"In the past we've found plants deep in canyons, such as off Ortega Highway, in more rural areas," he said.
The Sheriff's Department has not identified any suspects.
Anyone with additional information was asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (714) 647-7000. Anonymous tips may be submitted to Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS (847-6227) or online.
Bryce Alderton writes for Times Community News.
Follow the reporter on Twitter: @AldertonBryce.