30,000 pot plants at Calif. wildfire site

Aug. 18, 2009 at 6:27 PM

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Police say 30,000 marijuana plants were found at site linked to a huge Santa Barbara County, Calif., wildfire.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters at a news conference at the site investigators believe the La Brea fire was started by Mexican drug traffickers, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The New York Times said the La Brea fire burned more than 85,000 acres, and the U.S. Forest Service issued a statement saying Mexican drug cartels were suspected of being behind the marijuana operation.

Brown said drug traffickers were suspected because of the size of the marijuana plantation and the equipment found at the camp site, the Los Angeles Times reported. Investigators found stacks of propane tanks, irrigation tubing, fertilizer, a torched cooking stove and a semi-automatic rifle, the newspaper said.

The marijuana growers apparently fled as firefighters approached the source of the fire last week and were still at large Tuesday, Brown said.

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