A group of smoke jumpers got a surprise in southern Oregon when they landed in a marijuana growing operation.  The site is located in the Applegate area, on U.S. Forest Service land.

Police say it's unusual to find grow operations this early in the year. Oftentimes people stumble upon the marijuana grow sites during the late summer to early fall months.

There were 1,509 plants eradicated from the grow site. However, there were hundreds of additional holes and water lines being prepared for planting. Along with the marijuana plants, two long guns and other evidence was seized. The case remains under investigation.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and United States Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations are both active members of the Southern Oregon Multi-Agency Marijuana Eradication and Reclamation Task Force. They want to remind people who are using public lands to be aware of illegal marijuana grows in southern Oregon. Investigations over the years have revealed evidence that people working inside the marijuana grows are armed with firearms. These gardens represent a large financial asset to the drug trafficking organizations and they may take necessary measures to protect those assets.

Signs you may be near a marijuana grow include PVC piping or black poly-pipe, bags of fertilizer, large quantities of trash, and camp sites.

If you notice anything suspicious, leave by the way you came in. If possible take note of your GPS location and make a waypoint. Do not linger or investigate further. Upon returning home, call your local Sheriff’s Office and provide accurate road descriptions and drainage or creek names.