Forest Service: some growers fled during raid of Redstone-area pot patch
A man detained during the raid of an illegal marijuana growing operation near Redstone on Thursday is in the custody of immigration officials while a decision is made on what charges will be filed, if any, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Colorado.
No information could be released Friday about the man, including where he is being held, because it’s not known yet if he will be charged, spokesman Jeff Dorschner said.
The U.S. Forest Service’s regional office said few details about the operation could be released because it is an ongoing investigation.
“What we can share is that based on the evidence we collected, we believe there were more subjects involved,” Lawrence Lujan, regional press officer for the Forest Service, said in an email.
The agency announced Thursday that an estimated 2,700 pot plants were eradicated at a 5-acre site described as just south of Redstone on the east side of the Crystal Valley. The pot plants were destroyed at the site, according to a representative of the White River National Forest.
A source familiar with the operation said that three men fled the site and escaped when federal officials conducted the raid Thursday morning. The source didn’t want to be named for lack of authorization to speak on the matter.
The site is in rugged terrain where there is at least one official trail in the White River National Forest network nearby as well as hunters’ camps and feint trails.
“There are no restrictions in place near the growth site at this time,” Lujan said. “Law enforcement officers continue to monitor the area.”
Thursday’s raid was the third eradication of a grow operation in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in five years. One prior raid resulted in the destruction of 3,375 pot plants in the Crystal Valley in September 2013. The other resulted in the destruction of 2,630 pot plants in the Fryingpan Valley, east and at a higher elevation than Ruedi Reservoir, in September 2014.
Even though Colorado has legalized marijuana, illegal grow operations are still extensive in the national forests, according to the Forest Service.
“Colorado is third among states in the amount of marijuana plants seized and eradicated in 2016, behind California and Kentucky,” according to a statement by the agency. “Since 2009, 51 illegal marijuana grow sites and more than 160,000 marijuana plants have been eradicated from Colorado national forests.”
The Forest Service advises forest visitors to take precautions if they come across a suspected illegal growing operation anywhere in a national forest: Leave the area as it was found and retrace your steps out. Make observations to report to officials. Report the findings to the Forest Service or local law enforcement. Don’t linger at the site, call attention to yourself or touch anything that looks out of the ordinary.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission is looking into a limit of marijuana shops in town. The current plans involve having approximately one store per 1,000 residents.