Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Heather Graves, Modesto Police Department, (209) 652-0514
Over 4,000 marijuana plants were seized in a multi-agency drug raid on a ranch next to the City of Modesto Water Treatment Plant.
Drug agents from the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency (SDEA) had discovered several outdoor marijuana grow sites on an uninhabited area of the ranch, which is surrounded by water. Armed with a search warrant, SDEA, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Wildlife Officers with two Warden K-9 teams, and the Modesto Police Department raided the site.
Five suspects were apprehended, two with the aid of Warden K-9s. Arrested for possession of marijuana for sale, cultivation, pollution of the waterways, illegal dumping and immigration and naturalization hold were: Santos Zavala, Humberto Salgado, Gilberto Lizarraga, Rafael Medina and Indolfo Romero.
The elaborate complex of grow sites was irrigated using water pumps, a generator and several miles of water lines. Also on the property were multiple camp sites with tents, a fully equipped outdoor kitchen and approximately two tons of garbage and hazardous materials. The debris and hazardous chemicals were polluting a tributary to the nearby San Joaquin River and other waterways.
“In addition to a threat to public safety, illegal marijuana growers steal substantial amounts of water further exacerbating our severe drought conditions,” said CDFW Marijuana Enforcement Team Captain Nathaniel Arnold.
Investigators seized 4,216 total plants, which weighed 2,000 pounds. Agents estimate the harvested street value to be $12,600,000.