Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for August 12, 2009
Another huge marijuana farm bust in Garfield County
Several law enforcement agencies, including the Garfield County Sheriff''s Office, raided a large marijuana farm growing on the east fork of Boulder Creek. A female hiker from Boulder found the farm about three weeks ago. The hiker was one of a group of people who coincidentally received training from Garfield County Sheriff Deputy Ray Gardner a month ago on what to do if one accidentally encounters a marijuana farm. The hiker followed the protocol she learned and was able to report the marijuana farm to authorities. The farm was located again by law enforcement on August 6, and the raid planned for the morning of August 7.
The Utah Department of Public Safety Tactical Investigation SERT (Special Emergency Response Team) Team led the raid at approximately 6 a.m. locating two male Hispanic suspects, one in a makeshift tent, one using the bathroom a short distance away. The team ordered the two to stand still. They did not draw a weapon against the team, ran away, and were able to escape and are still at large.
Also aiding in the raid was the Utah Department of Public Safety West Jordan JSOG team, the Iron/Garfield County Narcotics Task Force, the Forest Service, the DEA, along with the Garfield County Sheriff''s Office.
The teams uprooted approximately 4,500 marijuana plants, along with plastic irrigation pipes, and numerous large piles of refuse and debris the marijuana growers had left. The piles were flown out by the UHP helicopter to a nearby road with dump trucks, and it is all currently being burned. The Tropic Fire and Rescue crew were on hand to help unload the piles and burn them. The estimated street value of the marijuana plants is at least several million dollars.
Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins says how important it is to stop these illegal marijuana farms, "I have heard the arguments that people have said, where they feel these farms should just be left alone; that they harm no-one. However, these farms are being grown by the Mexican mafia, and the money they raise from it funds their other various illegal and dangerous interests including other types of illegal drugs, child trafficking and child pornography just to mention a few. And that''s only one side of it. Those who would want to protect our environment and natural resources need only to see these types of farms to know that they are very much destroying the environment. They are putting harsh chemical fertilizers everywhere, they are leaving every kind of trash; they shoot any wildlife they want; they could care less about any kind of rules or protection. It is imperative that these illegal farms are rooted completely out, and I intend to see that every single one is out of Garfield County."
Lieutenant Chris Simmons of the UPS Tactical Investigation SERT Team, who led the raid, said, "We want to thank all of the members of this morning''s raid for their hard work. They have done such a fine job, and we appreciate their dedication to eradicating these illegal marijuana farms. We know how important it is that these farms are stopped; they threaten any area they are in. We want to thank everyone for their hard work today in getting this farm removed."
Lieutenant Alex Lepley of the DPS SERT team said, "People don''t realize what these marijuana growers do to the environment. There are chemicals and trash and damage everywhere. They have absolutely no respect for the law or, for that matter, anyone''s safety."