Two campers exploring Los Padres National Forest on Friday stumbled across a 13,000-plant marijuana field and, after being chased down a mountain by growers, reported the discovery to law enforcement. The subsequent bust landed the county $26.6 million worth of marijuana and a handful of high-powered rifles.

According to a report issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. yesterday, the two adult campers came upon the isolated growing area at around 11:30 a.m., where they were approached by two Spanish-speaking farmers tending the crop. Unable to converse due to the language barrier, the farmers communicated that the campers should stay and wait for their English-speaking “boss” to arrive.

Weary of their situation, the campers decided instead to pack up their campsite and gear and leave the area. A perilous chase down from the mountain ensued.

“While the campers were driving down the dirt road, they were approached by a pickup truck traveling the opposite direction,” the report said. “The truck stopped and the driver exited and waived for the campers to come back. They ignored his request and kept driving, believing he was the ‘boss’ that the two subjects had referred to earlier. The driver returned to his truck and began chasing the campers down the mountain. During the chase, the truck came dangerously close to the campers’ vehicle several times.”

When the campers reached the main highway, they were able to gain some distance from the truck and report the incident to the county sheriff’s department, which alerted various local agencies.

Within hours, a Taft Police officer spotted a truck matching the description of that which had followed the campers, and conducted a traffic stop. Forty-year-old Javier Barragan and 38-year-old Jose Lopez were positively identified by the campers as their pursuers, and the men were taken into custody.

A search of the vehicle yielded five high-powered rifles, equipped with scopes and numerous rounds of ammunition, the sheriff’s department reported.

Barragan and Lopez have been booked into the Santa Maria Jail on charges of marijuana cultivation, with bail set at $50,000 each. However, authorities warn that other such growing sites may be active in the Santa Barbara mountains, and those who plan on visiting the area to be appropriately cautious.

“The Sheriff’s Department and US Forest Service cautions hikers, campers and hunters that marijuana growing season is upon us,” Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Drew Sugars said in a written statement. “Most outside gardens are located in remote areas of [Los Padres] National Forest and are tended by Mexican Nationals who are usually armed.”

Sugars discouraged anyone who encounters any such operation from attempting to make contact the parties involved, and said they should immediately report suspicious activity to the sheriff’s department or the U.S. Forest Service.