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Another 2,600 Pot Plants Uprooted


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Tuolumne County Sheriff's narcotics officers yesterday netted another 2,661 marijuana plants in an on-going operation to uproot marijuana crops in the region.

In just three days, narcotics officers have destroyed more than 10,000 marijuana plants growing on public lands in Tuolumne County. The growers are all believed to work for large, organized drug cartels that traffic marijuana and methamphetamine, said Sgt. Jim Mele, head of the Tuolumne County Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Monday, county and state law enforcement officers uprooted 5,434 plants near Groveland. Tuesday, another 2,000 plants were netted near Moccasin.

Yesterday, 2,661 plants were found and destroyed on land in the Stanislaus National Forest, 15 miles east of Tuolumne.

The 10,095 plants are about a third the total number of marijuana plants destroyed in Tuolumne County in all of 2004.

None of the growers who were living at and tending the three marijuana gardens were around when the raids took place.

The growers left behind piles of trash, irrigation drip lines and fertilizer, along with camping and personal gear, Mele said. Officers photographed all the camp sites and retained some of the gear as evidence for a possible prosecution.

The marijuana was cut, hauled out, chipped up and burned.

Mele said the gardens were all spotted from the air earlier in the summer and tagged for eradication when the Sheriff's Department could get help in the form of agents and helicopters from the state Bureau of Narcotics' Campaign Against Marijuana Planting.

CAMP agents travel the state and work with county law enforcement officers to cut and haul out the marijuana plants.

Source: Union Democrat, The (Sonora, CA)
Copyright: 2005 Western Communications, Inc
Contact: letters@uniondemocrat.com
Website: http://uniondemocrat.com/
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