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Six indicted in Oregon bust of record marijuana farm

By Reuters
Sunday, June 26, 2011 5:21 EDT
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PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) – Six men were indicted on federal drug charges on Friday in connection with more than 90,000 marijuana plants stumbled on by bear hunters in a remote patch of forest that local authorities described as the largest cannabis farm ever found in Oregon.

The mile-long stretch of marijuana plants being cultivated on national forest land in northeastern Oregon carried an estimated street value of at least $136 million, state police Lieutenant Gregg Hastings told Reuters.

John Shaul, police sergeant for the town of La Grande, called the size of the marijuana farm “staggering.”

The two-page indictment charges all six men, who were arrested on June 15, with one count each of conspiracy to manufacture more than 1,000 marijuana plants and one count of depredation of government property.

Investigators alerted to the site by the hunters also confiscated three firearms from the pot farm, which included tents and camping gear, food, water and other supplies, enough to sustain the growers for several weeks, state police said.

Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen told the Oregonian newspaper the six men were all Mexican nationals.

Each faces up to life in prison if convicted on the drug charges alone. The property damage charge carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

The marijuana “grow” stretched in clusters along a ravine in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest that was terraced and fitted with an irrigation system. It took authorities two days to eradicate all 91,000 plants.

“Many people would be outraged at the damage to our public lands caused by illegal marijuana growers,” Shaul said in a statement announcing the bust.

Mochila insert follows.

Reuters
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