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Orange County

Authorities Clear 3 Marijuana Farms

O.C. sheriff's crews are removing about 2,000 plants discovered in the Cleveland National Forest. No arrests have been made.

September 04, 2003|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

Orange County sheriff's crews were working Wednesday to remove about 2,000 marijuana plants discovered in the Cleveland National Forest near the Orange and Riverside county line, authorities said.

The plants were found along Ortega Highway near the old Upper San Juan Campground, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. No arrests have been made, he said, adding "we do have a couple of possible leads that may lead to arrests."

The street value of the plants, discovered three weeks ago, could reach into the millions of dollars, Amormino said.

"Every year at this time we scour" the area, he said. "It's almost harvest time."

He added that the investigators found three farms over a square-mile area.

Detectives had monitored the locations for possible suspects after the plants were discovered but decided Wednesday to remove them before hikers happened upon them, Amormino said.

Crews have destroyed about 1,500 plants so far but "there's still a ways to go," Amormino said. The plants are in rough terrain and investigators are not sure of the extent of the farms, he said.

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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