9,200 marijuana plants found growing on islands in the Colorado River

More than 9,200 pot plants being grown illegally on two islands in the middle of the Colorado River were seized Thursday in a bust by a Western Slope drug task force.

The Grand Junction Sentinel reported that a pre-dawn raid by local and federal law enforcement officers approaching the grow on foot and by boat also resulted in the arrest of two of three armed men guarding the operation about 100 yards from Interstate 70 in De Beque Canyon.

“They’re pretty brazen,” said Steven Knight, group supervisor for the DEA’s Grand Junction office. “If you were driving down I-70 and pulled over, you could see the marijuana.”

Knight told the Sentinel that the investigation was triggered in May 2016, when a man was caught trying to sneak into the river island area with about 8,000 marijuana seeds in his pockets. This may, a Bureau of Land Management worker and a Mesa County Sheriff’s deputy climbed a nearby cliff to see if anyone ever returned to the area.

Surveillance showed what appeared to be three men living on the island and patrolling two grows with rifles.

When the men were taken into custody, they told DEA agents staged at the Island Acre section of James M. Robb State Park that they were cousins from the Sinaloa state in Mexico. They were to be arraigned in federal court in Grand Junction Thursday afternoon.

A DEA helicopter lifted plants to a landing zone at Island Acre. Some of the plants were loaded into Mesa County Public Works dump trucks and taken to the Mesa County Landfill and mixed with sewage. Another 200 plants — and their root balls — were preserved as evidence in the federal case.

To read more of this story go to gjsentinel.com

This story was first published on GJSentinel.com

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