Authorities remove more than 9,000 pot plants in Spring Mountains

This time, pot “garden” might be an understatement.

Authorities began removing an estimated 9,400 marijuana plants from the mountains west of Las Vegas on Tuesday morning, a big haul for local law enforcement, said Las Vegas police Lt. Laz Chavez, who supervises the valley’s multi-agency narcotics team.

Police said the farm was located in Lovell Canyon south of Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

It’s expected to take at least two days to eradicate the whole farm, which contained twice as many plants as police removed in two other busts combined.

“What looked like 10 plants from the air was really one giant plant,” said Chavez, adding that some plants were 7 feet high.

Officers reached the grow site Tuesday afternoon.

“This is a very significant grow,” Chavez said. “It’s spread out over a very large area of the canyon.”

Kent Bitsko, director of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program in Nevada, said the farm would be a record for Southern Nevada.

“That is a big one compared to what we have seen so far,” Bitsko said.

Bitsko said the bust paled in comparison with larger operations in Northern California, where authorities have seen farms with 50,000 plants.

“It probably wouldn’t be on California’s radar, but this is Nevada,” he said.

Police have not made arrests in Tuesday’s bust or any of the previous busts in the mountains. Both local and federal agencies participated in the removal process.

In late August, police removed 4,000 plants from the Deer Creek area of Mount Charleston.

Earlier this month, police removed 1,000 plants from Carpenter Canyon on the west side of the Spring Mountains.

Until this year, police did not think marijuana could be grown in Southern Nevada because of the dry climate. But growers have been using drip irrigation systems to pipe water from different sources, such as a spring, to their plants.

The farms were first spotted by police helicopters rescuing hikers several months ago.

At least six or seven farms have been identified and are scheduled for removal.

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