Officials raid illegal pot grow in Crystal Valley between Redstone and Marble | PostIndependent.com

Officials raid illegal pot grow in Crystal Valley between Redstone and Marble

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
In a 2013 bust in the Crystal Valley, Forest Service law enforcement officials estimated the marijuana discovered near Redstone was within two to three weeks of harvesting. No arrests were made.

Multiple state, federal and local agencies undertook efforts Thursday morning to “eradicate an illegal marijuana grow site on the White River National Forest,” according to a statement released by the forest supervisor’s office.

“A team comprised of multi-agency officials from Forest Service Law Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have undergone significant coordination over the past several months to lead to this action,” the statement said.

Officials from the agencies were eradicating the pot patch in the Crystal River Valley at a spot between Redstone and the Marble turnoff, according to a source familiar with the operation. The source did not want to be identified because there was no authorization to speak.

No information was immediately available on whether any arrests were made.

A different illegal grow operation in the Crystal Valley was discovered near Hayes Creek Falls in September 2013. That’s in the same general vicinity as the current site, though on the opposite side of the valley.

In the 2013 bust, the Forest Service and other agencies destroyed an estimated 3,375 plants that were up to five feet high in that operation. The agency estimated the value of the pot, which was close to harvest, exceeded $8 million.

The illegal grow operation was on 2 to 3 acres of forestland, though not all contiguous. It was discovered and reported by two archery hunters.

No arrests were made for that pot patch. In addition to destroying the pot plants, officials dismantled an irrigation system and a makeshift camp at the site in September 2013.

A year later, in September 2014, an illegal growth operation was discovered in the Fryingpan Valley, east of Ruedi Reservoir and at a higher elevation. Hunters discovered that pot patch as well.

Forest Service law enforcement officers put that site under surveillance but no one was observed, and no arrests were made. Federal workers destroyed an estimated 2,630 marijuana plants in the Fryingpan Valley operation. The value of the pot was estimated at $6.6 million by the Forest Service. A gravity-fed irrigation system was also dismantled.

This story will be updated as information becomes available.