Mexico City – A total of 58 people have been arrested in connection with the discovery last week of the biggest marijuana plantation in Mexico's history, the Attorney General's Office said.
The suspects were detained by army troops around El Rosario, a community outside the city of Ensenada, the AG's office said.
The 120-hectare (296-acre) plantation was found on the south side of Ensenada, near the U.S. border, just two kilometers (1.6 miles) from the main north-south highway in Baja California state.
The suspects will be held under preventive detention for 40 days while prosecutors gather evidence in the case.
Authorities initially arrested 16 people at the plantation on the Guerrero Negro-Ensenada highway in Baja California, which is in northwestern Mexico.
The plantation had the potential to yield 120 million tons of marijuana worth roughly $158 million, the commander of Mexico's 2nd Military Region, Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mujica, told the press last week.
The growers attempted to disguise the nature of the operation by placing tomato plants among the marijuana, the general said.
A 62-hectare (153-acre) marijuana plantation was found in March 2007 in Cruz de Elota, a town in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, while a 30-hectare (74-acre) pot farm was found at the El Bufalo ranch in the northern state of Chihuahua in 1984.
The plantation was destroyed by the Mexican army.
Mexico, the main conduit for illegal drugs entering the United States, produced roughly 19,000 tons of marijuana in 2009, according to official estimates.
Besides domestically produced marijuana, heroin and crystal meth, Mexican drug cartels traffic in cocaine and heroin from South America.
More than 40,000 people have died in Mexico since December 2006 in a conflict pitting rival drug cartels against each other and the security forces.