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Forrest Service Destroys Illegal Pot Grow North of Aspen Near Basalt

By Scott Condon | The Aspen Times

For the second time in a year, the U.S. Forest Service has eradicated a major illegal marijuana-growing operation on national forest lands in the Aspen area.

The agency was tipped off last week about a large garden near Ruedi Reservoir, according to White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams.

"It was hunters who actually smelled it," he said.

About a dozen Forest Service workers assisted by the Drug Enforcement Administration yanked out 2,630 mature plants by hand Wednesday and packed them out, Fitzwilliams said. The plants, up to 6 feet tall, were loaded into the agency's dump truck. Fitzwilliams said he believed the plants were hauled to the South Canyon Landfill, where they will be mixed with slurry, made unusable and buried.

The Forest Service estimated the plants were worth more than $6 million, based on an average value of $2,500 per pound.

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Background Photo Credit: Kasia Broussalian © 2015