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Largest Marijuana Garden Found In Sequoia Nat'l Park


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More than 60 border patrol officers, federal agents and park rangers are involved in this operation. Rangers estimate there are up to 40,000 plants, the largest marijuana garden found in park history.

Though this incident is using up personnel during what is normally the park's busiest week of the year, rangers say the investigation has also taken a dangerous turn.

At a command post created just for this bust rangers mapped out their plans to clear out the biggest marijuana garden ever in Sequoia National Park.

The pot plants covered several acres of park land near the Lake Canyon complex. And besides marijuana, miles of hose and even bullet shell casings have been found. And during last night's investigation, there was a frightening confrontation.

J.D. Swed, Chief Ranger, says "We did have shots fired when we had people in the garden and growth site and then there was a helicopter in the air also."

No one was hit but agents in camouflage were told to lay low and the park service helicopter left the area to avoid being targeted. The 7 shots fired, prompted rangers to triple their manpower Wednesday. It was the first shooting ever during a marijuana seizure at the park.

The situation was considered so dangerous that park goers and even our news crew were kept away from this remote area of the park.

"We've closed the Mineral King Road and we're escorting traffic up and down twice a day for today and we'll make adjustments as we go further," says Swed.

Rangers say cleaning up illegal grow sites, especially one of this magnitude, is destructive to the park. Athena Demetry, Restoration Ecologist, says "They're using agricultural chemicals to keep their insect pests away and rodents' away but all of those animals are part of the ecosystem they have a role in the ecosystem."

Marijuana fields also require a large amount of water, during a dry year such as this one, that's water the park can't afford to lose. "They'll send hose for a mile or over a mile across a dry hill site to get to a stream course or creek to divert water from. Those creeks don't generally have a lot of water in them to start with even in a good year," says Demetry.

Sequoia National Park wants to advise visitors that there is no danger to the public. This marijuana field is not close to any trails.

Rangers are hoping to seize all the marijuana plants in the garden by the end of the week.

News Mod: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: KFSN-TV (Fresno, CA)
Author: Jessica Peres
Contact: Jessica.Peres@abc.com
Copyright: 2007 ABC Inc., KFSN-TV Fresno
Website: ABC30.com
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