Calif. Pot Fire a Symptom of Drug Farm Epidemic

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2009 9:36 AM CDT
This image provided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department shows an encampment believed to be the origin of the La Brea Fire in Santa Barbara County.   (AP Photo/Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department)
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(Newser) – The La Brea fire that’s scorched 90,000 acres of California is the most visible sign yet of the glut of Mexican-run drug farms lurking in the state’s forests, the LA Times reports. Authorities are all but certain the fire was started by drug traffickers at a large, sophisticated marijuana farm on the side of a mountain, where authorities seized 30,000 top-grade plants.

The farm was fully stocked with stacks of propane tanks, irrigation supplies, fertilizer, and semi-automatics. Authorities believe a propane camp stove started the fire. The operation was huge, but hardly unique. State narcotics agents have seized $675 million worth of plants from such farms this year, and authorities believe there are many more. “The reality is we could have an army out there and not be able to cover all of that ground,” said a sheriff.