John Cádiz Klemack
Deputies seized more than 1,800 marijuana plants worth $2.7 million from an outdoor grow on a hillside just above a San Gabriel Valley neighborhood. The growers may have been using the local water supply to irrigate the plants, leaving residents to pay the bill. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Rowland Heights for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 24, 2012.
Deputies seized 1,824 marijuana plants worth $2.7 million from an outdoor marijuana growing operation in the unincorporated hills of Rowland Heights.
The grow was located above Pathfinder Regional Community Park, between a residential neighborhood and a public park, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
Lt. Nick Tippings, with the Sheriff's Department's Narcotics Bureau, says that some of the plants were fully grown and ready to be harvested, while some were still growing.
"It's obvious that they've been manicured as you can tell by the quality of the stuff that's coming out," Tippings said.
The grow was first spotted Friday morning by aerial surveillance, and a Marijuana Eradication Team was sent on foot.
Aerial video showed members of the MET gathering plants on the hill. A helicopter was used to airlift the marijuana to a nearby staging area (pictured, below).
More Photos: Deputies Seize Marijuana
In addition to 930 pounds of marijuana, deputies also seized irrigation piping from the grow and several items suggestive of a fully-equipped campsite, including boxes of the canned meat product Spam and propane tanks.
Residents there say they may have been unknowingly helping out with the grow.
"I'm shocked, and apparently we have been paying the water bill," said Camille Zamorano.
Detectives say they are looking into how the growers may have tapped into the water supply.
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported 18,024 plants were seized. The correct number is 1,824.