LASSEN NATIONAL FOREST (KPIX 5) — It’s a massive crime scene, deep in Lassen National Forest. Through dense ground cover and brutal terrain, federal agents are making their way to what might well qualify as an industrial-scale farm operation. There are living quarters, kitchens, bathrooms and trash dumps, all for the purpose of growing a lot of marijuana.
“This one was in excess of 15,000 plants,” said Stephen Frick, a special agent with the U.S. Forest Service. A plant count that high requires multiple plots, across several miles, fed by an endless network of pipes, all drawing right from natural waterways. Scattered over all of this, there are the chemicals. In every single direction there are fertilizers, poisons, and insecticides.
“The malathion, the pesticides a lot of the over the counter stuff, those are pretty common,” says Frick. “The uncommon ones are the restricted use pesticides like the carbofuran.”
Carbofuran, an extremely toxic pesticide that’s effectively banned in the United States, is fast becoming a favorite tool among Mexican drug cartels, which operate in California’s public lands. Once a rare find, it’s