Marijuana grow bust in Boulder County: 3,000 plants worth estimated $500,000 seized

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Commander Rick Brough, spokesman for the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, acknowledges that "this is unusual for Boulder County, although we've been seeing some of it along the Front Range in the last year or two, in Douglas and Jefferson counties."

Examples: In August 2009, the West Metro Drug Task Force found a grow of 5,100 plants worth an estimated $2.5 million on Sugarloaf Mountain in Pike National Forest. (To see a slideshow of images provided by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, click here.) A month later, an additional 4,000 plants were found in another location in Pike National Forest, shortly before the discovery of a $500,000 marijuana haul at Ralston Creek State Wildlife Area.

Brough says the Boulder County grow was notably sophisticated. "I don't want to go into a lot of detail about it, but they did have an irrigation system, and it was very well-organized for being in such an isolated area, where you basically have to carry in all the equipment. They definitely put some effort into it."

One of these individuals apparently entered the area while officers from the BCSO and other departments were present, but he managed to escape into the rugged land nearby; he remains at large.

Today, a search of the area by officers on the ground and in a helicopter will broaden, with the goal of finding out if there are other grows of this type in the vicinity. Regarding the 3,000 plants already found, Brough doubts they were intended to serve as product for Boulder's burgeoning medical-marijuana industry.

"It's speculation on my part, but with the size of this grow -- and we're talking about a street value of half a million dollars -- these people probably weren't trying to be caregivers," he predicts. "They were coming in to make a profit."

Page down to read the BCSO release on the bust:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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