Police found as many as 4,000 marijuana plants growing in a public park in Orange County in August.
Narcotics investigators uprooted the plants Aug. 15. A parks worker spotted the plants “a few weeks back” and called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Lt. Jeff Hallock said. The plants were growing in the Muddy Canyon portion of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, which is located near Newport Beach.
The park is located near a private high school and an upscale residential subdivision, officials said. The garden included between 2,500 and 4,000 plants, they said.
Narcs cut down the plants and took them away. Authorities said an investigation into the grow will continue.
After receiving the tip from the parks worker, sheriff’s deputies inspected the site from a helicopter. Narcotics investigators climbed down into the field to search for suspects and evidence. As of mid-August, nobody had been arrested, but Hallock said deputies were watching the area.
Deputies uprooted the plants one at a time, by hand, and a helicopter lifted them away to be stored as evidence.
Authorities said they were investigating the farmer’s irrigation system and where the farmer got the water. Hallock said the plants were growing a few hundred feet from Sage High School, in a rugged area next to the school. A gated community, part of Newport Beach, is located nearby.
Hallock said investigators don’t know how mature the plants were or how long they had been growing.
This bust was just the latest in a long series of raids by police up and down California. And it’s not the first time authorities have found tended weed growing on public land. From national parks to local wilderness areas, the state is lousy with covert pot farms on parkland.
California leads the nation in the number of cannabis plants found on public property. And considering the massive acreage of parks in the state, it’s likely most growers are never discovered.
Several major busts have been carried out on weed gardens in Orange County, including public sites other than Laguna Wilderness Park.
Seven years ago, cops discovered more than 6,000 plants growing on two farms in the Wood Canyons Wilderness and Aliso parks. The plants were growing near hiking trails and a residential neighborhood.
The growers in that case built a complex irrigation system that drained water from the sprinkler system used by the neighborhood’s homeowners association.
The largest plant bust in Orange County happened a year earlier, when narcs found a farm with 20,000 plants in Mission Viejo.