Cartel marijuana grow near Washington in Tahoe National Forest |

Cartel marijuana grow near Washington in Tahoe National Forest

Members of the Nevada County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force raided a marijuana-growing operation in the Tahoe National Forest Sept. 3 — netting about 120 plants but seeing no sign of the growers.

The grow on Washington Road, between the town of Washington and Highway 20, is believed to be the work of a Mexican drug cartel, similar to one raided nearly a month earlier near Bowman Lake.

No suspects were found on scene, said Sheriff's Sgt. Guy Selleck.

"We found bedrolls rolled up. They were packed up as if they were gone for a couple of days," Selleck said. "There was evidence of one or two growers."

Sheriff's deputies destroyed about 120 plants with the assistance of U.S. Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service officers.

The grow was irrigated by gravity-fed lines using water from a diverted stream, Selleck said, saying fertilizers had been added to the water.

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The grow had very steep slopes and was definitely at risk of contaminating the Yuba River, especially with the recent rain, he said.

The illegal cartel grow near Bowman Lake reportedly had approximately 3,000 plants. That grow had been terraced with drip irrigation running to every plant. The plants were being watered by a gravity-fed system that involved two reservoirs diverting water from a stream and that had fertilizer dumped into them.

Deputies located a number of empty fertilizer and rat poison containers near the water, a concern because the chemicals could drain back into the creek and contaminate the water source, Selleck said.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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