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Illegal Hidden Shack Discovered In Sunland Park

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SUNLAND (CBS) — Deputies made a surprising discovery Monday while patrolling a remote area next to the Tujunga Wildlife Sanctuary in Sunland. Just up a narrow dirt path, deputies found three men hanging out in a small camouflaged shack.

Robert Downs, 51, told investigators he built the shack because he liked the location and wanted to live there.

“This is pretty unique, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said deputy Johnie Jones from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office Park Bureau. “He went to Home Depot and started putting together a structure. He just didn’t think it was a problem, but he cut a few trees down.”

The small shack is hardly noticeable because it’s camouflaged by a tarp. The one-bedroom house has bunk beds built into the walls, chairs, a table and even a first aid kit.

Investigators found food, laundry, a toothbrush and books. The shack has been Downs’ home for eight months, but it will soon be taken down by the Department of Public Works.

“It’s illegal just to stay at a park after it closes and there’s laws about being there and camping. This is definitely camping at a new level,” said Jones.

Deputy Jones says Downs was growing marijuana plants near the structure. Investigators smelled the plants and found eight of them.

Downs was arrested for growing marijuana and for cutting down trees from a county park. He is being held on a $30,000 bail. The two other men were issued citations and were released.

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