WELLS, Nev. — Sheriff's deputies in eastern Nevada made two arrests early Wednesday morning after hunters discovered two large marijuana crops earlier in the week.
On Monday, some hunters came upon two large marijuana grows 45 miles northwest of Wells. Wednesday morning, at first light, authorities raided the site.
They arrested two people and found a handgun at one of their camps. Authorities were still looking Wednesday night for four more men who ran away.
"We took off approximately 2,000 plants," said Undersheriff Clair Morris, with the Elko County Sheriff's Office.
Aerial video from Chopper 5 showed the two crops were roughly 200 yards apart and nestled by a creek.
(The suspects) had dammed up a creek up there and run the irrigation out of the dam, and then run all the tubing down through. It was a pretty sophisticated operation.
–Undersheriff Clair Morris, Elko County Sheriff's Office
"(The suspects) had dammed up a creek up there and run the irrigation out of the dam, and then run all the tubing down through. It was a pretty sophisticated operation," Morris said.
Investigators believe the plants have been there all summer, possibly longer.
"Some of the other ground had been disturbed, from it looks like the previous year, where they had also pulled some plants," Morris said.
Authorities said the secluded, rural terrain of Elko County, which draws recreationists and hunters, can appeal to criminals too.
"We're out here in the middle of nowhere," Morris said. "There are springs all over the place. All they need is water, so unfortunately they grow it out here."
Deputies patrol as much as they can, but Morris said it's challenging to keep an eye on 17,000 square miles of land. He's just glad the stash seized Wednesday won't ever hit the streets.
As for the men arrested, Morris said authorities hadn't been able to identify them Wednesday night because the men don't have IDs and they don't speak English.
With the help of an interpreter, investigators plan to interview the men and continue looking for the others who got away.
All the men are facing federal charges because the grow was on federal land.
A street value for the plants was not available Wednesday.
Contributing: Paul Nelson and Jordan Ormond