Nearly 4,500 marijuana plants seized near Ellensburg

KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. -- Kittitas County officials raided a marijuana grow operation worth more than $2 million Tuesday. Deputies believe the drugs were to be sold through an illegal drug trafficking organization.

Officials said they recovered 4,450 marijuana plants, a sawed-off shotgun, and 660 pounds of trash, chemicals and other equipment used for the grow.

"Though Washington has legalized the Medicinal and Recreational use of Marijuana, Law Enforcement is obligated to act against these operations, as they violate both Federal and State Law, posing physical and environmental dangers to our community," Undersheriff Clayton Myers said.

The grow was reported by an Ellensburg couple who discovered the plants while hiking in a remote canyon, according to deputies.

The undersheriff also said operations like this are tough on the environment.

"One of the under-reported impacts of these operations is the negative impacts on the environment. Green trees are cut down, natural vegetation is removed and the ground is terraced, which results in extensive erosion after the grow is abandoned. The streams are dug out and re-routed for irrigation systems and the chemicals and fertilizers are run right into the streams and springs," Myers said.