Marijuana season could be dangerous for law enforcement

After law enforcement agencies successfully cleared millions of dollars worth of illegal marijuana fields over the past two years, The Iron County Sheriff’s office thinks that marijuana growers may be more protective of their crops this year.  “It’s just common sense,” said Investigations Sgt. Jody Edwards. “If these growers lose millions of dollars because of our efforts, then they are either going to move on, or else they’re going to guard their sites better.”  Garth Hinkle, a Cedar City resident, spends much of the summer in the back country with his horses and said the possibility of increased danger won’t deter him from his normal routine, though he will be more cautious.  “Of course it’s going to be on the front of my mind out there,” Hinkle said. “I don’t want to get into a fight with any drug growers, but I keep my bearings and I’m not worried.”

Hinkle also said that in all his years riding on public lands, he has never come across a marijuana grow.  According to the National Forrest Service, marijuana fields in Utah wilderness areas are becoming more common in recent years due to an increase of pressure in California and Nevada.  Dick Thompson, a research engineer for the National Forest Service said that the damage that comes from marijuana fields could be “monumental.”  “First off, they bring a ton of garbage with them,” Thompson said. “They also leave their plastic water lines behind.”  Another big issue comes from diverting water from its natural flow, which can alter the water table.  “In Utah, where water is more scarce, it’s more of a problem than we see in areas like Oklahoma or Nebraska,” Thompson said. “They alter a stream to water their crop, mix it up with their own waste, and the water table suffers.”  Aside from the environmental impact, signs from last year’s raids have shown a possibility for personal danger.

Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Sue Thomas said that a new element has been showing up at grow sites: guns.  “You see them now where you never saw it before,” Thomas said. “A gun escalates any situation, and this is no different. People are very aware of their surroundings out there.”  Law enforcement agencies said people should exercise extreme caution if they come upon what they think to be a marijuana growth site. People should take note of their location either with a GPS or by landmarks and then get away from the site. The location should be reported to the authorities as soon as possible.

via : The Spectrum

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