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Major illegal marijuana bust in El Paso County - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Major illegal marijuana bust in El Paso County

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EL PASO COUNTY -

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies and federal authorities conducted a big marijuana bust Wednesday. 

The drug bust was at a rural farmhouse off Judge Orr Road in El Paso County. 60 illegal marijuana plants were recovered in a building off the house, according to sheriff deputies. 

Deputies say each plant carries a street value of $4,000. Some of the plants found were half a week away from harvest, while processed and packaged pot was found in the home along with $2,500 in cash.

The entire grow was estimated to have a street value of around $500,000 dollars.

Deputies believe the pot was to be sold out of state and is part of an organized drug operation.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said the problem is out of hand in the county.

"This is just an absolute drain on our resources, I just cannot believe that we let it get out of hand the way that it did in Colorado and so it's time to take some action," said Elder.  "Not paying enough attention in the beginning when we legalized medical marijuana in the beginning and the lack of some of the restrictions that allowed them to grow these amounts."

"We're going to have to put more resources at this, we need to work closely with our federal partners to make sure we're doing everything that we need to do to get rid of these illegal grow operations, it's just completely unacceptable in our county," said Mark Waller, El Paso County Commissioner for District 2.  "It's not just all the marijuana they're taking out of here, it's all the chemicals they've spilled into the ground water supply that's impacting the other good folks that live out here, I think we need to take those kinds of lessons back and help people understand this isn't just a criminal justice issue, it's a public safety issue."

Waller said the issue isn't going to go away overnight, but instead may take a decade to eliminate.

El Paso County Sheriff's deputies say there is believed to be about 600 grows throughout El Paso County. The agency is working hard to tackle each of them as aggressively as possible.

"It is absolutely overwhelming, you can just imagine, it takes us a couple of weeks to process, to destroy this evidence that we're collecting and by the time we get into the summer session where we're running into grows with two or three hundred outdoor plants," said Elder.  "We're not going to stop, this is the main problem, because we're bringing a criminal element into El Paso County that manages these grows that take them apart and they ship it out of the state, we've got to figure out how to get on top of it."

As for those still growing?  

The Sheriff has one message.

"We're coming, we are coming and we have a plan and we will put you in jail, so if you're growing, you gotta weigh against the return on your investment better be worth you going to jail."

The investigation is ongoing into criminal charges.

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