Hikers warned to watch for pot growers

Enounters are rare but warnings are serious

John Palminteri, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Senior Reporter, johnp1250@aol.com
POSTED: 05:29 PM PDT Jul 15, 2013    UPDATED: 08:11 AM PDT Jul 16, 2013 
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MONTECITO, Calif. -

Hikers are being warned to be aware of their surroundings on trails that go deep into canyons where illegal marijuana farms have been found.

Last week two pot fields were found, cut down and hauled out off the Romero Canyon trail in Montecito.

One suspect was seen running from the area.

No arrests have been made.

"They have had cases where the subjects are armed in these situations and it's very dangerous," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Information Officer Kelly Hoover.

Hikers on the trail this morning said they never saw anyone tending to fields or acting suspciously.  "Never seen anything that's made me nervous while I am hiking up here,"  said hiker Anni Weiss.

Narcotics detectives say they want the public's help if pot fields are found but they don't want any hikers to take risks where the illegal grows are taking place.

"It's unlawful, and these people can be dangerous," said Hoover.

You're advised to hike with a cell phone in case there is an emergency need on the trails. One hiker says his works on the Romero Trail without a glitch all the way to the top.

Jack Sawaske says he is not worried about the trail or the people he sees. "I am here four or five days a week," he said.  

Sawaske carries a phone and has not had a problem with anything unusual.

Investigators say often in addition to the marijuana, they find hazardous waste and weapons.

"They have had cases where the subjects are armed in these situations and it's very dangerous," said  Hoover.