Nevada County authorities seize over 5K pot plants, arrest 1 person
Nevada County authorities say they seized over 5,000 suspected marijuana plants in a series of busts last week, netting millions of dollars worth of pot and arresting one man.
The Thursday and Friday execution of eight search warrants at eight sites across the county stemmed from a statewide operation targeting spots that possibly were polluting state waterways and watersheds.
The operation led to the seizure of 5,324 suspected cannabis plants, which were destroyed. Authorities also issued 22 state Water Resources Control Board violations, 26 violations from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and 60 county marijuana code compliance violations, a release states.
Nevada County has issued 13 commercial cannabis cultivation permits under its licensing program, staff said. None of the grows swept up in last week’s bust had county approval, said Sgt. John Dzioba, head of the sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit.
Officers arrested one person in connection with last week’s bust: Jose Otaolaurruchi-Correa, 25, of Nevada City, Sheriff’s Lt. Robert Jakobs said.
Facing a felony count of planting marijuana, Otaolaurruchi-Correa has since made his $10,000 bond, reports state.
More arrests could be coming. Each water board and Fish and Wildlife violation counts as a felony accusation of cultivating marijuana, Dzioba said.
“We’re still early on in the investigation,” he added. “At least half of them had no one on the property.”
According to Dzioba, the marijuana seized ranged in value from $5.3 million on the low end to a high of $21 million.
Local authorities were approached early this year and asked to participate in the statewide operation that involved polluting waterways, illegal dumping and water runoff. The state water board provided counties with lists of possible targets, a release states.
Nevada County’s Special Investigations Unit then conducted aerial surveillance, developing its own list of grows near watersheds, the report states.
Some eight to 10 Nevada County deputies, along with eight to 10 Yuba County deputies, participated in the operation, as did around 20 employees of the state water board, Fish and Wildlife Department, National Guard Counter Drug Team and the Nevada County Marijuana Code Enforcement Team, Dzioba said.
At one spot, in the area of Red Dog Road, a Fish and Wildlife scientist found a man-made dammed stream, the release states.
“Within the stream’s high-water mark, they located an endangered Foothill Yellow Legged Frog that they explained was at risk of extinction due to man-made obstacles like restricting the flow of water from the dam,” the report states.
A similar operation happened late last month in Yuba County.
In that operation authorities executed search warrants at six sites, seizing over 1,000 pot plants and 50 pounds of processed marijuana.
To contact City Editor Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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