U.S. Attorney John Walsh has announced a partnership with several states, including Colorado, to aggressively target illegal marijuana grows on public lands.
The announcement comes after firefighters found a $15 million grow operation on land burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs. And locating these farms is not anything new on the Western Slope, either.
Last week, federal agents raided a $375,000 operation in Durango and that is just the beginning of many more to come.
"Typically what you'll find is that it's not just one location. you'll have one organization that has a half a dozen grow sites that they're all being utilized," DEA Agent Jim Schrant said. "And, this is the time of the year is typically, in Colorado and Utah is the same way. They need to have these crops harvest by the frost."
The DEA says the number of busts in western Colorado has gone down in recent years because of medical marijuana and aggressive enforcement. But, the amount of violence being used to guard these farms by the drug cartels has become more dangerous.
In addition to the societal impact these farms have, officials say they also severely damage the neighboring environment. Strong fertilizers and trash destroy the remote, often pristine land these operations are found on.