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Hunters warned about possible marijuana-grow sites


UNDATED (WSAU)   Starting on Saturday, thousands of deer hunters will stomp over remote public lands where illegal immigrants have grown millions-of-dollars’ worth of marijuana. And once again, the D-N-R is warning hunters to watch for unusual things like the clear-cutting of trees, makeshift buildings, and chemical containers.

Authorities broke up huge growing operations during each of the last three summers in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. And 11 large-scale remote pot operations have been busted in the northern half of Wisconsin since 2008. Many were found by hunters who called law enforcement. Wildlife officials warn hunters not to confront anyone in the woods, since the growing sites may have armed guards. Instead, hunters are asked to take note of what they see, along with the specific area – with G-P-S coordinates if possible – and call authorities. State Attorney General J-B Van Hollen says it’s unfortunate that people who want to use recreation land are at risk from armed criminals with big cash crops to protect. Van Hollen calls it a significant problem, and a great danger to the public.

David Spakowicz of the state Justice Department says Mexican drug organizations find Wisconsin appealing because of the state’s rural nature – and they don’t have to worry about getting the product over the U-S-Mexican border. Seven people were arrested this summer in the largest pot-growing scheme found by state agents. Most busted in previous years got 10 years in prison, with orders to be deported to Mexico afterward.