$5 million worth of marijuana plants found growing in a public park

Orange County Sheriff's Department narcotics investigators conduct an eradication operation of at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Wilderness Park near Laguna Beach, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)

Orange County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators conduct an eradication operation of at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Wilderness Park near Laguna Beach, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)

Everyone knows California has a relaxed attitude to marijuana, but police were still shocked to find around $5 million worth of pot plants growing out in the open in a public park.

Park rangers were surveying the plant life in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park when they stumbled upon the crop – about 4,000 mature plants in a ravine just behind a group of multi-million-dollar mansions.

The crop was just beyond hiking trails but could have easily been found by anyone getting off the beaten track.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department sat on the find for a couple of weeks, staking out the crop in the hope of catching the crooks coming in for harvest.

Orange County Sheriff's Department narcotics investigators conduct a marijuana eradication operation of at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Wilderness Park near Laguna Beach, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)

Orange County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators conduct a marijuana eradication operation of at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Wilderness Park near Laguna Beach, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)

It took officers all day to remove an estimated 4,000 plants (Picture: AP/The Orange County Register,

But when no-one showed police officers and park rangers set about cutting down and removing the marijuana on Friday.

It took them all day to remove the plants, airlifting bales by helicopter to a nearby road so they could be bagged and transported by truck.

One sheriff’s department spokesman told the New York Daily News that the pot was packed into as many as 300 bags weighing 20lb each, making the total haul upwards of 6,000lb, or more than 2,700kg.

An Orange County Sheriff's Department narcotic investigator photographs a helicopter load as they clip up at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Friday morning  Aug. 15, 2014, near Newport Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt) MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT

An Orange County Sheriff’s Department narcotic investigator photographs a helicopter load as they clip up at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Friday morning Aug. 15, 2014, near Newport Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt) MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT

Orange County Sheriff's Department narcotics investigators conduct a marijuana eradication operation of at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Wilderness Park near Laguna Beach, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)

Orange County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigators conduct a marijuana eradication operation of at least 2,500 marijuana plants growing in the Muddy Canyon area of the Laguna Wilderness Park near Laguna Beach, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)

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Henry Sapiecha

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