Investigators seized 7,375 mature marijuana plants in West Marin on Tuesday after receiving a tip from deer hunters who found the grow site, a sheriff's official said.

Sheriff's Lt. Doug Pittman estimated the street value at $18 million or more. Investigators base the street value on the amount the plants could produce in dried marijuana, or about $2,500 to $3,000 per plant.

The crop was found on private property on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road in the Hicks Mountain area. Pittman said the plants were 4 to 5 feet tall in five separate plots that tied into existing water lines.

"It was a very elaborate operation," he said.

Investigators also found equipment and a campsite for two to three people. The growers were not there and might have abandoned the site within the past few days, Pittman said.

The property owner is not suspected of wrongdoing.

Sheriff's investigators chopped down the marijuana and hauled it off with the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration and a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol.

The operation was one of the largest marijuana busts in Marin in recent history. In late June, authorities confiscated more than 12,000 plants from Kent Lake to Bolinas Ridge, and in August 2010 investigators seized more than 7,000 plants around Kent Lake.

Contact Gary Klien via email at gklien@marinij.com



Advertisement