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Sep 2, 2011 4:33 PM by Matt Stafford

Massive NM fire somehow missed pot plant operation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - This summer's Las Conchas fire in New Mexico scorched tribal lands, threatened Los Alamos and pushed bears into nearby cities. But it somehow spared more than 9,000 marijuana plants in a remote area of Bandelier National Monument.

Officials say no arrests have been made in the sophisticated growing operation in the park's backcountry. But authorities say Friday they were looking for at least two suspects. They estimate the plants that were 6 to 10 feet tall had a street value of around $10 million.

Park superintendent Jason Lott says the pot was discovered in rugged terrain during an Aug. 23 helicopter flight surveying a flash flood.

A number of local and federal law enforcement agencies raided the operation on Thursday.

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