Arrest made for marijuana grow in San Isabel National Forest

CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - An illegal immigrant from Mexico was arrested and charged with growing marijuana in the San Isabel National Forest.

On Aug. 15, authorities received a tip on the illegal grow operation 5 miles south of San Isabel off Highway 165. As law enforcement officers moved into the location, one man fled the area. A second man, later found to be an illegal immigrant, was taken to the El Paso County jail and is charged in U.S. District Court for conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and to possess with the intent of distributing marijuana plants.

The grow operation was about 6 acres, where 7,490 marijuana plants were seized and destroyed. The estimated street value of the marijuana found is about $1.5 million. Law Enforcement discovered three substantial reservoirs where water had been diverted from the creek beds to supply the marijuana plants. Additionally, they found one illegally killed buck deer, and several rabbit and bird carcasses.

The Custer County Sheriff, Shannon Byerly, sent out the following statement on the grow:
The fertilizers used release harmful chemicals into the water sheds, and are not part of the natural forest environment. Not only chemicals damage those water sheds, but we find large amounts of trash and other debris associated with the illegal grow operations. This is clearly an issue and we can’t overlook the harmful effects this activity has on Forest lands.