Two marijuana grows in forest found, eradicated
Detectives from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department S.T.E.P. Unit and federal officers from the U. S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Cannabis Eradication and Reclamation Teams have continued the war on illegal marijuana gardens with two operations, one on Sept. 13 and the other last Tuesday, by raiding and eradicating two large mountain marijuana grow sites in the Sequoia National Forest, near Speas Creek and Rube Creek.
As detectives proceeded with their raids at each site, they saw a number of suspects flee into the thick underbrush and steep terrain. No arrests were made.
The Speas Creek operation uncovered about 7,675 live marijuana plants, all fully mature and some partially harvested. The Rube Creek grow site had already been harvested, but officers were able to seize 1,478 matured plants. Detectives also seized several firearms, ammunition for several pistols, rifles and shotguns, fertilizer, pesticides and rat poison, with several types from Mexico which aren’t readily available in the United States.
Detectives and federal officers also began to remove trash, water hose, pesticides and fertilizers from the public lands, and worked to restore, as much as possible, streams which had been diverted by the growers. Additional work will need to be done to these areas to full restore them to their natural state after the marijuana season, to lessen the danger to workers on these projects.
The S.T.E.P. and Narcotics Units also finished a two-month investigation into a site in Lindcove on Thursday where 266 marijuana plants were seized, where marijuana was being cultivated under the guise of having a medicinal use. The site came to the attention of detectives after neighbors reported that armed men were working in the garden.
Six suspects were arrest, most from Mexico or Los Angeles, with Rual Ortega, 41, of Cutler the only local resident.
Along with the plants, officers found that the site was protected with a sophisticated alarm and surveillance system, and several rifles and a handgun were also confiscated.
Each mature marijuana plant yields approximately one pound of usable marijuana bud, which, if it is of high quality, has a street value of over $3,000 per pound if sold in California, and if sold on the East Coast, it is worth several times more per pound.