Cops pull nearly 40,000 pot plants in Siskiyou County

Siskiyou County authorities pulled 39,115 marijuana plants from the Rainbow Ridge area near Lake Siskiyou on Thursday, but four suspected growers spotted in the woods escaped arrest, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department reported today.

Eight gardens were found scattered throughout the brush and timber in a roughly one-square-mile area that was steep and inaccessible, officials said.

Brim Aviation of Ashland flew deputies from Lake Siskiyou to the growing operations.

A law enforcement team that included deputies and representatives of the U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Fish and Game saw at least four suspects fleeing the area dressed in woodland-type camouflage clothing. One of those suspects was seen carrying a gun, the sheriff's department news release said.

Late in the afternoon a Mount Shasta police officer saw two men dressed in camouflage clothing, which he described as extremely dirty, walking along a road just west of the city of Mount Shasta near Interstate 5, the release said.

When the officer turned around to contact the two men, they ran into the woods. Officers from Mount Shasta police, California Highway Patrol, the Forest Service and the sheriff's department searched the area but couldn't find the two men. The highway patrol brought a helicopter from Redding to search from the air.

In the news release, Sgt. Mike Gilley, who heads the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department Marijuana Eradication Unit, reminded people that the start of hunting season coincides with Northern California's peak marijuana harvest season, a dangerous time when marijuana growers have the most to lose.

Sophisticated marijuana gardens on public lands, could pose a threat to hunters, hikers or anyone who accidentally walks into a site, he said.

Gilley advised people to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid areas where they see suspicious activity such as gardening supplies, hoses or PVC pipe, camouflage netting, or isolated camps in the woods. Anyone who finds evidence of a marijuana patch should immediately leave the area and contact law enforcement.

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