Law enforcement officials have raided a huge marijuana growing operation in Topanga State Park, which is located less than an hour’s drive from Los Angeles.
Park rangers discovered a plastic-lined dam that was diverting water from part of Topanga Creek. After following the water’s new path, a marijuana growing operation was discovered deep in the wilderness of the park.
A raid was conducted by park rangers, deputies from the LA County Sheriff’s Department, and officials from the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority last Friday, and over 34,000 marijuana plants were discovered.
The majority of the plants were still immature– ranging from 1 to 2 feet in height. Officials destroyed the marijuana that they discovered. It is estimated that the marijuana was worth approximately $100 million.
There were 13 plots of marijuana plants throughout the grow. Such massive operations that use harsh chemicals can cause extensive damage to the environment, damaging soil, native plants, and animals. According to park rangers, it could take years for the environment in Topanga State Park to fully rebound from the damage that these growers have caused.
Although 3 men were seen fleeing the scene when the raid occurred, no arrests have been made. In addition to the marijuana that was discovered, there was also a lot of evidence that confirmed the growers’ recent presence– over 500lbs of garbage and supplies were left behind. Officers also found decaying batteries, pesticides and fertilizers than are prohibited in California, and hunting traps, one of which was near the body of a dead fox.
Outdoor marijuana growing operations have been popping up in State and National parks and forests throughout the United States. According to Craig Sap, the Angeles District Superintendent for California State Parks, the Santa Monica Mountains area has seen an influx of growing operations as a result of increased enforcement along the US-Mexico border. With drug smuggling becoming more and more difficult, people are resorting to running their own massive illegal drug operations out of state and national parks.