Large marijuana farm chopped down in Fresno County

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County authorities have found and destroyed a very large illegal marijuana grow tucked away in the foothills.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Department hiked in early to uproot a pot farm, hidden in the hills. Lieutenant Mark Padilla pulled them out, by hand.

"This alone, I've already pulled 120 plants so that gives you an idea of how large this grow is."

There were roughly 11,000 plants, most were growing on steep terrain, and the rest was in a smaller garden about half a mile away.

Deputies used shovels and machetes to destroy the plants. Then they shut off the water. We had to hide this deputy's face because he's on the narcotics team.

He said, "It's got a pretty good flow to it, they use a lot of water to keep these plants growing through our heat in the summer."

This water was flowing from a creek up the hill. Whoever set up camp here, built a make-shift reservoir, diverted the water through intricate tubes and used gravity to feed the plants.

"They've come in, dammed up the natural waterway."

It's a destructive process, draining resources from the county, legitimate crops and farmers. According to the sheriff's department, every plant sucks up six gallons of water a day and at least 500 gallons before harvest.

Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department said, "There are thousands in these grows so do the simple math and you can see the hundreds of thousands of gallons that this adds up to."

From here, it's on to the next one. Lieutenant Padilla says it's early in the season and the gardens are just starting to pop up. But each and every one has to go.

"It's a very profitable, lucrative business, they'll continue to try and we'll continue enforcement."

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