Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pot growers threaten federal land in NM

A large marijuana plantation found in a remote part of Bandelier National Monument this summer was an eye-opener for public lands officials in New Mexico. Not only do monument employees plan to search for similar gardens on foot and by helicopter every summer from now on, they believe the size of the plantation might be a dangerous sign that Mexican drug cartels are moving into New Mexican forests, said Jason Lott, Bandelier’s superintendent. “They would want to protect their investment and those that may inadvertently find it are at great risk,” Lott said. “It’s dangerous to have here for the visiting public.” In August, air crews surveying damage from the Las Conchas Fire south of Los Alamos flew over the plantation and immediately knew what it was, Lott said. The bright green plants – some of them 10-feet high – stuck out amid the blackened brush and charred trees. When they headed into Frijoles Canyon on foot, investigators found six gardens spaced out over five acres. Three of the gardens had already been harvested but officers still found 10,000 plants worth an estimated $10 million. It was one of the largest marijuana plantations ever found on public land in New Mexico, Lott said...more

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