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Marijuana growing operation discovered near Morgan

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Aug. 17, 2011 at 2:13 p.m.

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PORTERVILLE, Morgan County — More than 100 law enforcers Wednesday took down what officials believe is the largest marijuana grow ever discovered in the county.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 marijuana plants were found growing in a remote area just outside of Porterville.

The large grow was discovered Saturday by a helicopter pilot who used to work for the U.S. Forest Service and had been trained in spotting marijuana farms, said Morgan County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Peay.

The pilot contacted the sheriff's office, picked up deputies and flew them over the area.

These people have millions of dollars of marijuana growing back there. They're obviously going to do what they need to take care of it.

–- Morgan County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Peay

Since then, members of Morgan-Davis Metro SWAT team as well as a SWAT team from the Weber County Sheriff's Office, have been in the mountains 24-7 keeping surveillance on the marijuana field. One night, they heard at least two men speaking in the area, Peay said.

Authorities came out from their cover and began disassembling the marijuana farm Wednesday morning, but none of the alleged growers were found.

"It looks like it's been growing a few years," Peay said.

An irrigation system was found to help the plants grow. A tent, living quarters and kitchen supplies were also found, suggesting two to three people had been living on the mountain full time growing the pot plants.

The area of the grow is on private property. But Peay said it's a remote area on extremely rough terrain that was used mostly for cattle. Law enforcers had to take four-wheel ATVs to a base camp and then hike to the marijuana field where each plant was pulled up by hand from the roots.

The large showing of man power was necessary because of the potentially dangerous situation, he said.

"These people have millions of dollars of marijuana growing back there. They're obviously going to do what they need to take care of it," Peay said.

"These guys are dangerous," added Morgan County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Kevin Edwards. "They don't want anyone stepping across their money."

Authorities say this is typically the time of year that marijuana farms are discovered because the plants are close to being harvested. Last week, large marijuana farms were discovered in Wasatch and Sevier counties. Nearly 10,000 plants worth an estimated $60 million were seized and destroyed. In July, a large pot farm was discovered in southern Utah near Veyo.


Written by Pat Reavy with contributions from Alex Cabrero.


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