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Large illegal marijuana grow uncovered in Rancho Peñasquitos

Posted at 12:11 AM, Oct 21, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Authorities eradicated a massive illegal marijuana grow operation discovered near a popular trail in the Rancho Peñasquitos area.

According to Drug Enforcement Administration officials, San Diego police officers were called out to an area of the Del Mar Mesa Preserve on Tuesday regarding a homeless encampment. That’s when they discovered more than 2,000 marijuana plants.

The plants were 5- to 7-feet tall and were ready to be harvested. The street value of the crop is estimated to cost as much as $1.5 million, the DEA said.

The plants were hidden below the canopy of the natural vegetation.

“The way that it was set up, it was obvious people were living on that property, would lead us to believe, if we had to make a guess, it was most likely cartel-related,” DEA officials said.

They called it a sophisticated operation, adding it was rare to see an illegal grow of its size growing in a city so close to homes.

“In this case, we think it's more likely they found a fire hydrant or some sort of a city water source that they were able to tap into,” DEA officials said. “We couldn’t find that in this case, but we think that’s the most likely scenario.”

Authorities said there was also an extreme fire danger associated with the grow. They found trash in the vicinity, as well as two propane tanks and open flame burners for cooking in an area with tall, dry vegetation.

Authorities have not found anyone connected to the illegal operation. They are asking the community with any information to come forward.