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Officers remove hundreds of pot plants in Tooele County

TOOELE — Drug-enforcement officers removed $9 million worth of marijuana plants Thursday from a farm in Ophir Canyon, the Tooele County Sheriff's Office said.

An elk hunter discovered the farm earlier this week and reported it to law enforcement officials.

"This has got to put a dent into someone's illegal drug business," said Tooele County Sheriff Frank Parks.

Officials observed the area for a few days, hoping to apprehend anyone involved in the operation. On Wednesday morning, officers moved in when they saw a man at the farm, Parks said.

The man escaped, however, sparking a mountain-wide manhunt.

Officers found food and four sleeping bags at two different campsites. A natural spring a quarter mile away fed two separate plots through concealed water lines.

Investigators believe the growing operation could be part of a large drug network operating in the western United States.

— Michael Gonda