Advertisement

Marijuana Grove Seized in O.C.

Times Staff Writer

About 2,000 marijuana plants were seized Friday after being discovered by an Orange County sheriff’s helicopter pilot in a desolate canyon near the Eastern tollway on the border of Orange and Irvine, authorities said.

A dozen investigators began hacking down the 10-foot plants Friday, said Jon Fleischmann, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The cannabis plants could have produced 3 tons of marijuana and had a street value of about $500,000, he said. The haul was one of the county’s largest.

“It’s a very complex setup,” Fleischmann said. “There were efforts made to hide this grove. They were underneath all this foliage and bigger trees.”

The plants were irrigated by hoses that diverted water from nearby avocado trees, Fleischmann said. Investigators destroyed the system.

Advertisement

The cannabis plants were on land owned by the Irvine Co., visible 100 feet off the northbound lanes of the Eastern tollway, about a mile south of Santiago Canyon Road.

Authorities said it would take until Sunday to finish chopping down the plants, which spanned an area 800 yards deep and 100 yards wide. They will later be burned.

Investigators had no suspects. “With these kinds of groves, it’s very, very difficult to determine who grows them,” Fleischmann said. “Once they see us here, they just disappear.”

In September 2003, Orange County sheriff’s crews removed about 2,000 marijuana plants from the Cleveland National Forest near the Riverside County line.

Advertisement

Those plants, valued at about $1 million, were found at three farms over a square-mile area along Ortega Highway near the old Upper San Juan Campground. No arrests were made in that case.


Advertisement
Advertisement