Seventeen suspected pot growers, most of them illegal immigrants whose crops were in the Tonto National Forest, have been charged in U.S. District Court, according to a U.S. Attorney press release.
Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Forest Service, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Phoenix Police Department busted five grow operations.
They seized 25,000 marijuana plants with an approximate street value of $50 million. They were grown in remote areas near Maple Springs, Pigeon Springs, Promontory Butte, See Springs, Gold Creek Canyon and Hinton Canyons within the Tonto National Forest.
Sixteen suspects are illegal immigrants from Mexico, one was a U.S. citizen, one was a Mexican citizen in the U.S. legally and one is still on the loose, said U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Sandy Raynor.
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