Warning issued: Don’t pick up hitchhikers | TheUnion.com

Warning issued: Don’t pick up hitchhikers

Hitchhikers along Highway 49 near Independence Trail could be armed; don’t pick them up, Nevada County sheriff’s officials warned today.

At 6 a.m. today, law enforcement officers raided a large marijuana plantation on federal land operated by a Mexican drug cartel and employing Mexican nationals, county Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Smith said.

At least three Mexican citizens are in custody, but two others tending the property fled and may have weapons, Sheriff Keith Royal said. The two men still at large were described as having dark hair, dark eyes and brown skin.

“If you see a Mexican guy hitchhiking, don’t pick him up,” Smith said.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office assisted officers from the United States Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the raid, Smith said. The property is owned by the BLM and is on the uphill, east side of Highway 49.

The operation was largely successful despite the two suspects’ fleeing, Royal said.

“It’s difficult to get these people in these operations because they run into the underbrush and they’re gone,” he said.

Increasingly, Mexican drug cartels have been planting marijuana in remote areas of California, guarded by Mexican nationals who sometimes have been forced into the work at gunpoint. Traffickers then use profits from pot sales to finance large methamphetamine laboratories in Mexico and the United States.


To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.

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