Authorities raided a marijuana growing operation near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Central California after discovering the growers were diverting water from an American Indian reservation directly into their own reservoirs.
According to the Associated Press, members of the Tule River Tribe discovered that the grower was siphoning water from a stream that supplies up to 80 percent of the reservation’s water, and immediately reported it to the authorities.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Lt. Patrick Foy told the AP it took five days to complete the raid on the massive grow site. Authorities discovered seven reservoirs and seized almost 14,000 plants, 10 miles of irrigation pipes, and 12,000 pounds of trash.
“They had every spring, every drop of water dammed up and diverted to the plants,” Foy told the AP, adding that he had never seen a more effective marijuana growing operation.
Authorities were unable to make any arrests during the raid, as over a dozen people working at the grow site fled once the raid began, Foy said.
Officials have started cracking down on marijuana growing operations, including state-legal operations in Colorado and Washington, using federal irrigation water or other bodies of water illegally. In May, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reminded Colorado it could not use federal irrigation water for the state’s many legal marijuana grows.