Dozens of law enforcements officers Monday morning raided a large marijuana grow about 6 miles west of Panguitch, near Ant Hill Rock, and seized hundreds of marijuana plants. The men who were growing the garden were not on site at the time of the raid and are still at large. Officials were alerted to the possible presence of the farm, after a frightening exchange June 30th between a Mexican national and a group of young women. The man, 27-year-old Pedro Guerrero Gutierrez, approached two girls between the ages of 11 and 15 at Little Dam (less than a mile southwest of Panguitch) who were swimming in the stream. Carrying a loaded gun at his side, he demanded their cell phone when four other young women, one 20 year old leader and 3 other young girls came upon the scene. It apparently frightened Guerrero, as he was unaware that there were others there besides the two girls. Guerrero ran off, and all six of the girls ran to their nearby van and called 911. Guerrero was arrested walking into Panguitch near 300 South about 2:00 p.m. that same day. He and his broken cell phone were covered in pine gum, which lead deputies to believe he had fled a marijuana grow somewhere nearby. Guerrero had said that the men he was with were trying to kill him, but has been highly uncooperative and has not provided any other details of who he was with or about the marijuana farm.On July 6th the National Guard was able to locate the marijuana farm, and Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins along with several other law enforcement officials, hiked close to the garden site Friday morning (July 16th). They were able to ascertain that there were individuals there as they could hear them speaking, and surveyed the land to get details for the raid.This morning at 8:00 a.m. (July 19th) over 50 law enforcement officers from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, DEA, DWR, US Forest Service, US Parks, Utah Department of Public Safety, Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Piute County Sheriff’s Office, Brian Head Police Department, UHP Helicopter, SERT and Narcotics Task Force, Cedar City Police Department, and the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency all met to coordinate the raid, which happened about 10:30 a.m. this morning. The marijuana, miles of piping and large amounts of refuse left behind by the drug growers were hauled out by the UHP Helicopter. It was found that the marijuana growers had tapped into the Panguitch culinary water pipe that runs approximately a mile from the grow site and were using that water for their marijuana gardens. Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins says “We are extremely grateful to all the many agencies who worked together on the raid today, and we want to express our appreciation to them for their hard work and professionalism in securing the site and uprooting this garden. It’s really important for people to understand this: that those who think marijuana is no big deal, or who have a small bag of marijuana stashed somewhere in the house, are helping to perpetrate the worst kinds of crimes known to man. The drug cartels that run these farm operations, like the one we raided today, fund everything from rape and murder, to kidnapping and child pornography. They completely destroy any environment they farm in, kill all local wildlife, desecrate the land, leave huge piles of refuse, and then move on to another area and do the same thing all over again. These farms bring danger and crime to our backyards, and the men running the farms are armed and extremely dangerous. I hate to even think of what might have happened if there had really only been those two girls at Little Dam when Mr. Geurrero approached them. We will continue to aggressively fight these marijuana farms, and do everything in our power to uproot and eradicate them from our county.”Sheriff Perkins adds: “Please remember that if you happen across a farm, do not take matters into your own hands. Note where you are, leave the scene immediately and contact the authorities. If you happen to meet an individual running these farms, do anything you can to make them believe that you are not alone; that you are meeting up with a group of people that are coming shortly. This tactic was used at another grow last fall by a hiker, and it might have very well been the thing that saved her life. In either case, leave the area as quickly as possible and notify authorities immediately.”
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