Yuba County deputies seize over 1K marijuana plants in bust
Yuba County sheriff’s deputies trekked winding, bumpy, dirt roads in the foothills earlier this week to seize over 1,000 illegally cultivated cannabis plants and levy $4 million in fines.
The department’s Marijuana Eradication Team Yuba, or METYu, has been conducting fly overs of the hills that entice growers, small and large, from over the state and country with its vast tree coverage, Mediterranean climate and proximity to water sources.
That’s why the department enlisted the help of Code Enforcement, California Fish and Wildlife, California Water Board, California National Guard, Sierra County Sheriff’s Office and California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis department.
Three men were arrested from a site at Scott Forbes Road but not before they ran: one dislocating or breaking his knee, another bitten by a police dog, the third surrendering.
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At the 10-acre property, deputies cut down around 128 plants growing from planter boxes. Two dogs were left at the site, one tied to a tree.
Investigators from the state water board followed hoses from the plants to a well (and solar panels) just off the roadway.
While water wasn’t being diverted from a nearby stream, officials said the setup may have impeded the natural flow and therefore, may be subject to environmental violations.
According to information accessed from the Yuba County Assessor’s Office, the owner of the property at Scott Forbes Road has a mailing address in Bonita Springs, Florida. That address appears to be within a gated community connected to a country club and golf course.
After cutting down and loading the plants into a trailer to be transported for destruction, deputies went to another Browns Valley property — one that couldn’t be accessed by truck or ATV. Officials said illicit growers go to great lengths in seeking refuge and will often choose areas atop hills with PVC pipes carrying water downhill, in hopes that law enforcement won’t go to the trouble to seize their plants.
Deputies served search warrants at six sites Monday, seizing 1,358 plants and 50 pounds of processed marijuana, department spokesperson Leslie Carbah said. At the properties, officials cited 11 water and fish and game violations, with the state Department of Food and Agriculture levying at least $4 million in fines. At a site in the 12000 block of Lone Tree Way, deputies arrested 25-year-old Adrian Orozco of Citrus Heights on suspicion of illegal cultivation of marijuana, and 53-year-old Jose G. Gutierrez of Loma Rica on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance for sale.
The busts that began Monday were similar to those conducted last summer at 16 sites in the Oregon House area which netted over 6,000 plants, nine arrests, 40 pounds of finished butane hash oil, 14 water quality violations, 14 water rights violations and 88 Department of Fish and Wildlife violations, according to archives. Many of the departments that participated in that bust also participated this year.
Law enforcement officials pointed out the numerous environmental and watershed concerns that come with illegal grows.
Editor’s Note: An Appeal reporter joined law enforcement this week to cover the bust of an illegal grow site.
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