Soumitro Sen
Staff Writer

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August 14, 2008
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Pot raid yields more than 1,600 plants

In the biggest pot raid of the year, Nevada County Sheriff's deputies seized more than 1,600 marijuana plants near the South Fork Yuba River Wednesday.

No one was arrested in the raid, Capt. Ron Smith of the Nevada County Sheriff's Office said.

"We believe it was a commercial drug trafficking operation, but it appeared to be abandoned," Smith said. "There was chicken wire, trash and garbage, showing people had been there, but they were all gone."

The total volume of marijuana confiscated could fetch as much as $1.3 million, according to estimates by the local law enforcement.

The Nevada County Sheriff's Office came to know of the operation a few weeks ago, Smith said.

"This is the time of the year when we fly, looking for marijuana operations, as it's nearing harvest time," he said.

During the raid, sheriff's deputies found six to seven interconnected pot gardens all on federal Bureau of Land Management property, said Sgt. Bill Smethers of the county's Narcotics Task Force. The gardens were spread out over the hillside and had a gravity-fed irrigation system, Smethers said.

"They had actually started harvesting some of the plants, leaving the stalks on the ground," he added.

The growers' method of operation match that of Mexican growers throughout the state, Smith said.

"(Mexican growers) live in the gardens, as opposed to a grower who visits a garden, tends to it and goes home," Smith added.

Wednesday's drug raid involved about 30 law enforcement officers with the Nevada County Sheriff's Office, Butte County Sheriff's Office, California State Parks and the Department of Fish and Game, Smith said.

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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The Union Updated Aug 14, 2008 03:51AM Published Aug 14, 2008 03:49AM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.