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PANGUITCH -- Law enforcement authorities in Garfield County raided an illegal marijuana grow site Monday and destroyed thousands of plants in Garfield County.
These people are raping our forests, they are contaminating our forests.
–Garfield Co. Sheriff Danny Perkins
The Garfield County sheriff was tipped off a couple of weeks ago about the likelihood of a marijuana grow site when a man approached two teenage girls in the foothills west of Panguitch, armed with a gun. The man, Pedro Guerrero, is now in jail and not cooperating law enforcement authorities, but the sheriff's hunch was right on.
These marijuana plants located Monday had been growing for nearly three months and were about a month away from being harvested. Federal, state and local officers were all part of the bust.
"These gardens are a real big concern to us. They are a big public safety concern," said Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins.
Guerrero, who had previously been deported, is suspected of being involved in the grow.
"We had an individual come into a canyon close to Panguitch and approach a group of girls. This man was armed and he was demanding a cell phone from the girls," Perkins said.
"They know what they are doing," Perkins said. "There's a pipe system. They've actually tapped into the Panguitch culinary water system. That's where they are getting the water for this garden."
The grow operations are seen as dangerous, especially for someone who accidentally stumbles upon one.
"Leave the area immediately. Do not confront these individuals. Do not even try to show you have been there, and tell law enforcement, and make note of where you are so local law enforcement can find these sites. They are difficult to find," said Becki Bronson, spokeswoman for the Garfield County Sheriff's Office.
Seeing such an elaborate operation in his county brought strong words from the sheriff.
"These people are raping our forests, they are contaminating our forests," Perkins said.
Police are still looking for other men believed to be involved in the grow.
Officials estimate that about 6,000 to 8,000 plants were confiscated Monday. They plan to search the area for other possible grow sites.