Wednesday , July 03, 2013 - 5:10 PM
PANTGUITCH — A tip from a hiker led law enforcement to unearth a field of 2,800 marijuana plants on National Forest land in southern Utah.
One man was arrested in connection with the pot growing operation found about 15 miles north of the Bryce Canyon National Park — and just a quarter mile from a popular camp site, said Garfield County Sheriff James “Danny” Perkins.
“I don’t what the heck they were thinking putting it there?” he said.
Perkins says this is the first marijuana field they’ve found in Garfield County in several years. He doesn’t think the people that set up camp there with tents, sleeping bags, fertilizer and water tubing are linked to drug cartels.
The marijuana plants were fairly small, an indication that the field was likely only there for a few weeks or a month.
“This garden isn’t like the typical cartel garden we’ve dealt with in the past,” Perkins said. “I think they were kind of freelancers.”
A group of state and federal officers moved in on the field Monday in what was supposed to be a fact-finding or reconnaissance mission, Perkins said.
But, officers ran into a man involved in the operation and it turned into a bust. The man fled, chased by two officers. Perkins says they finally captured Nestor Obregon Perez after a long and difficult chase.
Perez had to get stiches from falling and the officers were skinned and bruised, Perkins said.
Perez, 34, has been booked into jail on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and for trying to escape from officers.
Another man at the camp got away before officers could catch him but Perkins said they believe they know who he is.
Perkins said Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies plan to destroy the plants and clean up the tents and supplies being used there.
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