David Anderson, Richfield Reaper
Sevier County Sheriff's deputy Bryant Johnson pulls apart marijuana plants during a raid in Garfield County on Mount Dutton, about 20 minutes north of Panguitch.

More marijuana farms have been discovered in central and southern Utah, believed to be part of the largest drug bust in state history.

A marijuana garden has been raided in Garfield County on Mount Dutton, about 20 minutes north of Panguitch, said Garfield County Sheriff's spokeswoman Becki Bronson.

"They have been watching this place for some time. This was a coordinated effort and law enforcement has known about it and has been doing surveillance," she told the Deseret News on Friday. "It was the discovery of this garden that led them to the ones in Washington and Iron."

Iron County Sheriff's deputies are back on the scene of a farm with as many as 5,000 plants in the Little Creek area near Paragonah. Sheriff Mark Gower said it appears to be related to similar pot farms in Iron and Washington counties that netted upward of 80,000 plants. Iron County deputies arrested five people connected to one of the farms discovered near Cedar City.

"They're not really talking, but evidence gathered through this investigation led us to this," Gower said of the latest find near Paragonah.

One man was booked into the Iron County Jail late Thursday in connection with the drug raids.

In Sevier County, the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force busted up a marijuana farm in the Pickle Keg area of Salina Canyon.

"It was a very big grow," Sevier County sheriff's detective Nate Curtis said Friday. "It extended clear across the whole hillside."

The task force said approximately 18,000 plants, growing equipment, water lines and camping gear were removed from the site. Curtis told the Deseret News five people were arrested in their raid.

"There's one or two that got away," he said.

The discovery of so many farms this past week has authorities believing they are part of a larger drug operation.

"As we go through this investigation, I think we'll find they are," said Gower.

The U.S. Department of Justice has said that Mexican mafia-linked marijuana farms are becoming an increasing problem on federal lands in the western United States. Farms have been found in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


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