Local and federal law enforcement authorities seized about $4 million worth of marijuana from an illegal grow site last week in Los Padres National Forest.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian said the pot plants were growing about a mile northeast of Thomas Aquinas College, 10000 Ojai Road near Santa Paula.

Sheriff’s detectives and law enforcement personnel from the U.S. Forest Service recovered about 18,000 plants on Sept. 22. They also found 300 pounds of marijuana that had been recently harvested and was being dried out, Kuredjian said.

[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]“This is the harvest season, so we are out and about trying to take them down,” he said.

Investigators valued the haul at about $4 million, Kuredjian said.

An encampment was found where authorities suspect the growers stayed, Kuredjian said. Items such as hot plates were found, he said.

However, there was no one at the encampment when authorities conducted their operation. No arrests were made, Kuredjian said.

In addition to collecting the marijuana, authorities collected about a ton of trash from the encampment and illegal water lines that were being used to irrigate the plants, Kuredjian said. Water from local springs was being diverted, he said.

Special report: Cannabis and the environment.

The captain was not sure whether the find was the biggest seizure from an illegal grow in the county’s history, but said 18,000 to 20,000 plants is substantial.

“They called it a pretty large one,” Kuredjian said of the on-scene investigators.

Investigators did not disclose how the marijuana farm was discovered, Kuredjian said. In the past, he said, authorities have found them by conducting routine helicopter flyovers in the the area looking for pot. The plant stands out partly because it’s a different shade of green than other plants, Kuredjian said.

Other circumstances have involved local hikers stumbling upon the area and being shot at. When the hikers report these incidents to authorities, the grow site is discovered, Kuredjian said.

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