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OPHIR --The discovery of a large marijuana farm led to a manhunt in Tooele County Wednesday afternoon. Authorities found hundreds of marijuana plants worth nearly $1 million; the farm was growing on a mountain near Ophir.
Tooele County sheriff's deputies have counted 400 marijuana plants, with a street value of about $800,000. They plan to stay here all night to keep an eye on the farm.
Early Thursday morning, deputies will go up the canyon and start cutting down the plants, but they still don't know who's growing them.
An all-day manhunt in Ophir Canyon ended without an arrest. Authorities say dense landscape made the search difficult and allowed the man to avoid capture
"[There are] a lot of trees, a lot of bushes, a lot of stuff; so trying to find the individual is difficult," said Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park.
Park continued, "He could walk over the top and have someone pick him up on the Salt Lake side. He could walk down any of these spans of quaking aspen and bushes and almost get down to the bottom."
The sheriff says a man was living near the top of the canyon, tending to hundreds of marijuana plants. He says the farm was about 100 yards long.
"It's been there quite a while, very sophisticated watering system," Park said. "Looks like the gentleman has stayed there for a while."
An elk hunter made the discovery a couple days ago and alerted authorities. A multi-agency drug task force watched the farm Wednesday morning and moved in on it. The sheriff says the man may have heard them coming and took off running.
Wednesday evening, investigators brought down some evidence, including a bag of plant clippings. They say their main concern is dismantling the farm because it will lead them to the people behind it.
"We've got a lot of evidence up at the scene. I'm sure we'll find out who he is," Park said.
The sheriff says he doesn't know how many people are involved. He says they bust marijuana farms a few times a year and they have a couple others they're watching right now.