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October 25, 2014

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2,475 marijuana plants found in remote grow operation

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Nevada Department of Public Safety

Authorities finished clearing a remote outdoor marijuana grow site this week in Esmeralda County, Nev.

Outdoor marijuana bust

Authorities finished clearing a remote outdoor marijuana grow site this week in Esmeralda County, Nev. Launch slideshow »

Approximate location of marijuana bust

Nevada and Esmeralda County officials have destroyed 2,475 marijuana plants in a remote area of the White Mountains northwest of Las Vegas, authorities said.

Esmeralda County Sheriff Ken Elgan asked the state Department of Public Safety's Investigation Division to help destroy the plants on Aug. 7, authorities said. The operation was completed Wednesday.

The exact location of the marijuana growing operation is not being disclosed because the investigation continues, authorities said, identifying the location only as northwest of the town of Dyer. The location is about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno near the California state line.

The latest marijuana operation was found about four miles from another operation discovered in August 2008.

Officials discovered the marijuana plants during aerial surveillance of the area.

The Department of Public Safety's Nevada Threat Analysis Center and the Bureau of Land Management trained Northern Nevada officials after four marijuana operations were discovered in 2008, with two of the major growth areas in Esmeralda County.

No arrests have been made, authorities said. The mature marijuana plants ranged in size from 4 to 6 feet and would have been flowering or producing buds ready to harvest within one to three weeks. A mature plant will yield about 1 to 2 pounds of marijuana.

Some plants were in rows while others were scattered among natural trees and vegetation in a canyon. Such plants require frequent attention and watering and it is not uncommon for people to remain on site to guard and care for the plants, officials said.

The cultivation of marijuana is not illegal in Nevada since a law was inadvertently removed from the Nevada Revised Statute by the 2001 Legislature prohibiting the manufacture of a controlled substance, including marijuana. It was revised to address legal challenges in making methamphetamine.

Senate Bill 262 was introduced in the 2009 Legislature to correct that defect, but the bill died in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

However, officials may still press charges for possession of marijuana and related offenses. Those having more than 100 pounds up to 2,000 pounds would be charged with a felony. Up to 10,000 pounds is a felony with a minimum prison term of not less than two years and a maximum of 10 years, plus fines.

Anyone with information about the Esmeralda marijuana operation is urged to contact the sheriff's office at (775) 483-3424 or the Investigation Division at (775) 684-7408.

Participating in the latest eradication effort was the Esmeralda County Sheriff's Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Investigation Division's Tri-NET Narcotics Task Force. The Tri-NET includes officers from DPS, Lyon County Sheriff's Office, Carson City Sheriff's Office and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

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