SUNLAND (CBS) — A Sun Valley man was in custody on Tuesday after deputies uncovered a marijuana-growing operation hidden right on public land.

KNX 1070’s Brian Ping reports Robert Downs was arrested by Los Angeles County park officers at his makeshift mountain hideaway.

Sheriff’s deputies found a small, crudely constructed shed that was illegally built on preserved public land while on patrol early Monday morning at the Tujunga Ponds Wildlife Sanctuary near the 210 Freeway and Wentworth Street.

Eight marijuana plants were also discovered near the shed, which was camouflaged with tarp and paint in the middle of the woods, and featured a rock patio, barbecue, and four bunk beds inside along with fire extinguishers on the walls.

Downs, 51, said he began building the structure back in November with materials he purchased at Home Depot.

He was arrested and booked on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and removing plants and trees from a county park. He is being held on $30,000 bail.

Two other men, Aysen Gailer, 30, and Jorge Perez, 45, both of Sun Valley, were issued citations for code violations and released.

Sheriff’s Deputy Johnie K. Jones said the structure will be removed in the next two weeks.


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