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Deputy Jeff Eveland hiking back up from the site of a pot farm grow discovered Sunday in rugged terrain within a half mile of Pine Mountain homes.[Hedlund photo]
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A hiker who asked to remain unidentified for safety purposes took photos of sheaves of mature pot plants being harvested and prepared to be packed out of the rugged area on foot.
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By Patric Hedlund
PINE MOUNTAIN (Sunday, Oct. 24 7 p.m.)—Two hikers came upon a pot farm harvesting operation that may span six acres in rugged terrain off of Mil Potrero Highway, less than a half mile from Pine Mountain homes Sunday, Oct. 24. At about 4 p.m. Frazier Park substation deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call. Deputies Jeff Eveland and Kevin Moretti hiked down into the area and identified an extensive irrigation system with clear indications that the area had been used for a long time to grow pot on a commercial scale. In an interview at about 6:50 p.m. the two said that almost all the harvesting had been accomplished.
"This is the most dangerous time for both hikers and law enforcement," Eveland said. During the harvest season taking place now, illegal marijuana farms are often being worked by armed individuals who are just about to convert the grow into cash, Sgt. Michael Bonsness of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Major Violators Unit said in an earlier interview. Large growing operations have been found this year in rugged areas of Tejon Ranch, Lockwood Valley, Cuddy Valley and now Pine Mountain. U.S. Forest Service lands are often chosen by grow operations, where pumps, hoses and drip lines are assembled in "ingenious ways that would make these people rich if they did something legal…." Eveland said.
Eveland said deputies have been trained about "booby traps" and "glassing," when pot farm workers serving as lookouts use binoculars to watch the movements of those who accidentally enter a growing area. The hikers on Sunday did exactly what Bonsness counsels anyone who comes upon black hoses and irrigation systems in the woods to do: run. He said they should exit the area immediately, then call law enforcement to come handle the situation.
Deputy Moretti and Eveland said a special operations group would be securing the area and checking whether toxic chemicals and other dangerous refuse had been left at the site.
This is part of the October 22, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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