By Rocky Salmon, The Press-Enterprise
Marijuana growers were stealing water from a county fire hydrant to irrigate 9,000 plants in the hills south of the Pechanga casino, a multi-agency task force learned Tuesday afternoon. The plants would have been worth about $40.8 million on the street, officials said.
"I have never heard of growers tapping into a fire hydrant," said Sgt. Mark Lohman, a Riverside County Sheriff's Department spokesman. "We typically see that activity from faucets in avocado groves."
The bust is part of the department's marijuana eradication program in effect since May. The special investigation unit targets southwest Riverside County and north San Diego County, assisted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Border Patrol, the San Diego North County Narcotics Task Force and deputies from the southwest station.
During Tuesday's raid, officers located the marijuana farm tucked underneath the shade of trees. None of the growers were at the site.
As officers tracked the water supply, they followed it to a fire hydrant.
"Marijuana growers will always adapt, and taking water from a hydrant is not impossible," Lohman said. "But it is clever."
Officers do not know how long the growers had been siphoning water from the county.
The task force chopped down the marijuana and sent it to a law enforcement dump site. Chemicals will be poured on the marijuana, which will then be buried.
Earlier this month, the task force located and destroyed 24,000 marijuana plants in the hills west of Temecula. At those sites, the growers had been tapping into avocado water lines to irrigate their marijuana plants.
"Marijuana growers have been real busy," Lohman said, referring to the 33,000 plants destroyed near Temecula in the past three months.
Officials estimate the marijuana found during that time would have been worth about $148 million.
Note: Some of Riverside County's firefighting equipment went to pot.
Complete Title: Marijuana Growers Tap Hydrant Near Pechanga To Irrigate Plants
Source: Press-Enterprise (CA)
Author: Rocky Salmon
Published: Saturday, June 23, 2001
Copyright: 2001 The Press-Enterprise Company
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Marijuana Growers Tap Hydrant To Irrigate Plants
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