Authorities removed thousands of marijuana plants just outside of Newport Beach city limits last week, according to officials.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators conducted a marijuana cultivation eradication operation in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Wilderness Park on Aug. 15, according to an OCSD press release.
The location is south of the SR 73 toll road, east of Newport Coast Drive near East Coastal Peak Park and Ridge Park Road, Lt. Jeff Hallock explains in the statement.
“The plants were located on property in OC Parks jurisdiction, outside city limits. Investigators have estimated there to be approximately 2,500-4,000 marijuana plants in various stages of maturity,” Hallock notes.
“The marijuana eradication effort required narcotics investigators to hike into the rugged area and manually pull the plants out of the ground,” the statement reads.
The department’s airship “Duke” was utilized to lift and move the plants to a nearby staging area at Coastal Peak Park where they were packaged for evidence.
The operation took several hours to complete.
According to an Associated Press report, the plants had an estimated street value of about $5 million.
The plants were in an area a few hundred feet south of a private high school and not far from a toll road and a gated Newport Beach community.
AP noted that in 2007 more than 6,000 marijuana plants were found in two pot farms in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park. The plants were located near homes and an irrigation system tapped into the sprinkler system for the homeowners association.
The largest outdoor marijuana farm discovered in the county had 20,000 pot plants. It was found in September 2006 in Mission Viejo.
There was no suspect information available at time of press. It is an ongoing investigation.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 647-7000.
Anonymous tips may also be submitted to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (855-847-6227) or at occrimestoppers.org.