22-acre pot farm found by crews fighting Waldo Canyon Fire

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — An elaborate, 22-acre farm growing a batch of marijuana plants worth $15 million was found by firefighters battling the Waldo Canyon fire west of Colorado Springs in June.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said there were 7,500 plants found on the site in the Sand Gulch Area north of U.S. 24.  The farm had an area for plants to grow in addition to dams and irrigation lines.

A U.S. Forest Service spokesman said the marijuana discovery wasn’t announced sooner because of an ongoing investigation. So far, no arrests have been made.

Authorities said some of the plants were destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire, which also decimated 346 homes. There was no information about whether or not this bust was related to a similar bust made in Pueblo County a week ago, which authorities believe was the third or fourth largest in state history.

The growers in the Pueblo County bust were a part of a Mexican cartel, according to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s office.

Since 2009, 16 illegal marijuana grows have been raided on public lands in Colorado, U.S. Attorney John Walsh said. As a result of those discoveries, U.S. attorneys in other states are joining forces with federal, state and local agencies in “Operation Mountain Sweep,” which will target other illegal marijuana grows in the high country.

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