Thousands of Marijuana Plants Found in San Bernardino National Forest North of Big Bear Lake

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Marijuana plants are seen in the San Bernardino National Forest in an image provide by the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department on Sept. 22, 2018.

Marijuana plants are seen in the San Bernardino National Forest in an image provide by the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department on Sept. 22, 2018.

Thousands of marijuana plants were found growing in large plots within the San Bernardino National Forest north of Big Bear Lake and south of Lucerne Valley, authorities announced Friday.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said deputies conducted an operation alongside officials with the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday and Friday and made the discovery near Marble Canyon, Arctic Canyon and East Fork Canyon.

Investigators seized 10,204 marijuana plants from the sites, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

“Camping equipment and large amounts of trash were also located, showing the suspects had been living near, and caring for, the large marijuana grows,” a statement from the agency said.

Nobody was arrested, but authorities said they suspect illegal drug trafficking organizations were responsible.

The perpetrators caused permanent damage to the forest by clearing away natural foliage to make space for the cultivation, the Sheriff’s Department said. They also used illegal toxic pesticides, according to the agency.

“These substances can seep into the ground and contaminate the ground water and impact natural wildlife,” the news release said.

Officials urged the hikers who discover marijuana plants in the forest to leave the area and immediately contact law enforcement.

Anyone with information can contact detectives by calling 909-387-8400 or sending an email to NARC-MET@sbcsd.org. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call the WeTip hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463)  or visit www.wetip.com.

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