BIG POT BUST OFF HIGHWAY 2
August 13, 2008
(U.S. HIGHWAY 2 AT COLES CORNER) — Looking somewhat like a military invasion dozens of Chelan County law enforcement officers, many in SWAT team military type garb, swooped in during a pre dawn raid Tuesday morning and seized over 20,000 marijuana plants growing on timber industry owned land in the Coulter Creek area.
The large, illegal growing site was located about one mile south of U.S. highway 2 and about five miles west of Coles Corner. The growing operation was on land owned by Longview Fibre Company but authorites say the company is not suspected of having any involvement with the growing operation.
The area in which the plants were found is mountainous terrain. The plants were first spotted by helicopter in a clearing amid some trees. Many of the pants were mature and near harvest. The Chelan County Sheriff's Office estimates the value of the large crop at being close to $31 Million dollars.
No arrests have been made in connection with the seizure. A tracking dog picked up a human scent at the area on Tuesday but whomever it was managed to get away without being seen. Law officers believe Mexican drug cartels are operating the growing sites.
This raid was the fourth such drug raid this month in Chelan County. Authorities say some 40,000 plants were found in the other raids. A little over half of those 40,000 plants were found in one raid in the Blewett Pass area.
Earlier hunters reported coming across marijuana plants in the Magnet Creek area some 14 miles north of Leavenworth. Law officers raided that area and seized over 11,000 marijuana plants. Officers have also found other grow plots in the Lake Wenatchee area. Those sites could possibly yield another 30,000 plants.
Authorities say these large marijuana growing operations pose a real safety concern for hikers and hunters as guns are often found at the hidden marijuana plots. The Chelan County Sheriff’s office advises hunters and hikers who stumble across marijuana growing in wilderness areas to leave the area immediately and call police.