ELY, Nev. (AP) — A rural sheriff is warning hunters to be cautious after authorities discovered two illegal marijuana farms and seized roughly 15,000 plants with an estimated street value of more than $30 million in an eastern Nevada mountain range.

An investigation was launched in July after a citizen work crew found suspicious items in the Ward Mountain Range south of Ely.

A multi-agency operation involving the Eastern Nevada Narcotic Task Force, U.S. Forest Service, Drug Enforcement Agency and officers with the White Pine County and Lincoln County sheriff’s office was assembled, according to a news release.

Between July 26 and Aug. 1 authorities removed more than 10,000 plants from the first grow site.

A day later a second marijuana crop was discovered in the same region. Officers moved in on Aug. 6 and seized another 4,300 plants.

White Pine County Sheriff Dan Watts said both sites were camouflaged, and camps were equipped with food, shelter and other supplies.

No suspects were found and authorities have been monitoring the sites to see if anyone returns.

“I hate to label this, but right now, it looks like the Mexican drug cartel,” Watts said.

With hunting season approaching, Watts said the decision was made to move in to ensure public safety.

He said growers could be armed with weapons, and he urged anyone who comes across a pot site to take note of the area, leave immediately and call law enforcement.

“We want the public to be aware of their surroundings,” Watts said. “If they see anything suspicious, contact us and let us know.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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