Helicopters buzzing through the sky between the Manzanar air strip and Shepard Creek, the culmination of months of investigations into huge marijuana farms in the Eastern Sierra. With another day of raids and removal of the pot farms to go, officers counted up one days haul, 28,500 plants removed.
Multiple farms spread out in Sierra Canyons, following the water up to elevations of 7500 feet. Hogsback Creek, Georges Creek, Bairs, and Shepard Creeks, the growers appeared to seek canyons that do not have major trails and hiker traffic.
When I arrived at the Manzanar air strip, two people were dangling on a long line beneath a helicopter. This turned out to be an officer and one of the suspected growers in handcuffs, face down in a rescue litter.
Another of the two suspects caught later arrived in an Inyo Sheriffs vehicle. Both wore camouflage fatigues, blending in with the well armed array of law enforcement officers as much as they did the landscape.
One officer, who caught a suspect was overheard saying that he had walked almost right up to the suspect hiding in brush, when a visible boot caught the officers eye and he and others made the arrest.
How many other suspected farmers are still hidden in the hills is not known and may never be known.
After the farms in Shepard Creek were secured and photographed, officers went to work to destroy the crop. The plants with out the buds that people smoke were cut down and left to rot. Budding plants were flown out to a waiting Inyo County wood chipper, where the plants were shredded into very expensive, illegal mulch to be buried deep at the Independence dump.
At the end of a long, hot day the officers, from just about every government law enforcement agency around, gathered for their debriefing. As the various teams added up the number of plants cut down, the total for the day came out to 28,501. More raids for today were planned and the officers headed off to get some rest before a new day work started.