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Slideshow: Say goodbye to $2.5 million worth of Sugarloaf Mountain marijuana

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Joel Warner's blog "Colorado's Marijuana Growing Pains Continue" focuses on attempts to regulate the medical-marijuana industry. This item is about weed of another kind -- and a lot of it.

Last month, the West Metro Drug Task Force found and eradicated what the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office describes as "a sophisticated outdoor marijuana grow operation in the Pike National Forest on Sugarloaf Mountain." Turns out a rancher was alerted to the weed field when searching for stray cattle who may or may not have been jonesing for a hit.

Click here to access a slideshow of JCSO photos showing Task Force members collecting over 5,100 plants, which weighed in at nearly one ton, and look below to read the press release describing the process. According to the latter, no arrests have been made in the incident, presumably meaning that the perpetrators are still out there. They can be identified by their green thumbs.

Marijuana grow found in Pike National Forest

Jefferson County, Co. -- On July 9, 2009 the West Metro Drug Task Force eradicated a sophisticated outdoor marijuana grow operation in the Pike National Forest on Sugarloaf Mountain. Jefferson County Sheriff's officials were notified of the incident after a rancher on horseback stumbled onto the marijuana field while attempting to collect stray cattle.

Task Force members and deputies spent nearly 24-hours collecting the marijuana which amounted to over 5,100 plants weighing nearly 2,000 pounds. Task Force members received air assistance from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flown by the Colorado Air National Guard. The helicopter was used to lift large bundles of marijuana out of the steep and rugged terrain to a location where it could be loaded into vehicles for removal.

Although no one was located in the area, detectives believe that suspects were squatting on the mountainside while they tended to the grow operation. Detectives found a shack-like house which contained food, clothing, sleeping bags, cooking utensils and other household items.

The "street value" of the confiscated marijuana is estimated at $2.5 million dollars.

Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office tip line at 303-271-5612.

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