06:48 PM PDT on Wednesday, September 2, 2009
By MEG COYLE / KING 5 News
BELLEVUE, Wash. - Law enforcement officers today busted a major marijuana grow operation on Taylor Mountain, which is near Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah Alps.
Initial reports indicated a hiker tracking a bear spotted a plant two weeks ago. The Eastside Narcotics Task Force now says a helicopter spotted two major grows and SWAT team members located a smaller grow on the ground.
About 25,000 plants were harvested. Most of the plants taken were considered mature.
Today officers battled rough terrain, logs, downed trees and thick brush to harvest the plants. One operation was located about 300 yards off the road, and the other about a mile in.
"Often times the area is booby-trapped so we send in a SWAT team first to secure the area and make sure no one's hiding back there that may be armed," said Carla Iafrate, a spokesperson for the Eastside Narcotics Task Force.
Police say the plants were irrigated. A stream runs through the area where they were found.
Police say there is evidence to suggest two to four Mexican nationals are behind the operation.
"We located signs posted on trees and their encampment with the names of Mexican states, presumably their home states," said Iafrate.
They'd set up camp deep in the woods to watch over the crop. But investigators say it doesn't appear anyone's been in the area in about two weeks.