Desert Invasion - U.S.


Hikers warned: Find a pot field, bullets may fly

By William Hermann, The Arizona Republic, Aug. 19, 2005

The U.S. attorney for Arizona warned the public Thursday of the dangers of marijuana: not smoking it, but stumbling across it.

Not that Paul Charlton downplayed the dangers of marijuana use. He said it's a dangerous, unhealthy habit.

But his point was to say that if a hiker had stumbled upon the kind of marijuana farm that officials shut down in the Coconino National Forest earlier this week near Strawberry, there may have been a tragedy....

Charlton said armed guards often are paid to protect marijuana farms, and an unwary hiker could lose his or her life...

...six farms or groves have been found this year in the Coconino and Tonto national forests with about 100,000 plants. Eleven suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the groves, including four in the most recent bust.

Charlton said the grove near Strawberry was one of the biggest growing operations ever found in Arizona....

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