CEDAR CITY — Approximately 1,800 marijuana plants were eradicated in a rugged area near Right Hand Canyon on Monday.

The Iron County Sheriff's Office, along with other agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, discovered the sophisticated operation because of information collected during a traffic stop Thursday of two vehicles by the Utah Highway Patrol, said Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower.

Gower said Monday he couldn't release many details about the investigation, but noted that officials believed the operation was linked to a Mexican drug cartel. No one was arrested Monday, but officials believed there were people in states east of Utah that could be linked to the operation, Gower said.

The marijuana operation was located on private property in an area of steep terrain that Gower described as not easy to access. He said the property owner had no idea that pot was being grown there. Gower believed the marijuana operation had been there undetected for several years.

— Pat Reavy