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DEA agents bust marijuana growing operation


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SALT LAKE CITY -- The bust of what had the potential to be a huge marijuana plantation in a remote area of Utah is confirming the suspicions of drug agents that drug cartels are growing pot again in the state.

On May 11, KSL reported that Utah wilderness was becoming a hot spot for marijuana plantations.Last summer, the Drug Enforcement Administration in Utah investigated 11 pot-growing sites on public land in the state.

Drug agents expected the fact they seized 90,000 marijuana plants last summer would discourage would-be growers from setting up in Utah; however, they've already busted a grow operation of 29,000 plants in Wayne County.

DEA Supervisory Special Agent Michael Root said, "I think this is the biggest grow we've ever had, this early in the year, and it was going to be a massive grow if it came to fruition."

[View Larger Map](http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=boulder+mountain,+UT&sll=38.334116,-110.808105&sspn=0.773441,1.785278&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=38.195022,-111.467285&spn=0.161893,0.205994&z=11&iwloc=A)
They plants were small, just a few inches tall and only about 8,000 thousand of the 29,000 on site were actually planted. The grow was at a high altitude, 8,500 feet on the Boulder Mountain, and the growers had already set up a watering system.

It was that black irrigation piping which tipped off a resident to the marijuana--as DEA agents credit more public awareness that drug cartels are using Utah to grow pot. Root said, "The news media is doing a really good job of educating the public of what to look for. I think in the past, they might see this black piping or fertilizer bags or people carrying tools in the middle of the wilderness and it didn't make any sense. I think they are putting two and two together and making calls to local authorities or to DEA and providing us information, so we can put a stop to this."

Agents maintained surveillance on the grow site overnight, but the suspects running the operation never returned.

They are following up on evidence left behind and believe it's possible there could be another growing site in the area.

If you happen to stumble upon a possible grow site, agents hope you will contact the local sheriff or the DEA, and they say you should get out of the area as soon as possible for your own safety.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

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Sam Penrod

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