Tag Archives: marijuana cultivation

CDFW and Partners Arrest Six Involved In Illegal Marijuana Cultivation

A multi-agency drug raid has resulted in six arrests in a sweeping action taken to reduce illegal marijuana cultivation and resulting environmental damage in California.

Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and several allied agencies made the arrests during a wide-ranging raid on Sept. 4. The suspects were taken into custody and will be charged with multiple violations, including cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana, maintaining a place for the sale of narcotics, felony conspiracy, grand theft of water, pollution of state waters, litter near state waters and unlawful water diversion.

Arrested were Pedro P. Tejeda of Galt, 50, Jose Luis Aguilar of Elk Grove, 54, Juan Garcia Baltazar Lopez of Sacramento, 26, Jorge Ornelas Garcia of Lodi, 47, Arnulfo Castillo Torres of Lodi, 53, and Antonio Avilez Carrillo of Delco, Idaho, 23.

CDFW and its partners had been gathering information on the suspects for months.  They are suspected of having supplied a number of marijuana grows previously raided by CDFW wildlife officers.

“Diligent reconnaissance and investigative work by our officers laid the groundwork for a successful operation,” said CDFW Assistant Chief Brian Naslund. “Our department will continue to strive to protect the natural resources of our state by aggressively pursuing marijuana cultivators who steal water during an unprecedented drought, damage the environment and imperil wildlife.”

Over the past several years, officers from various state and federal agencies have identified four large marijuana grow sites within San Joaquin, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties that have been linked to an unknown drug trafficking organization. Two sites were located at the White Slough Wildlife Area in San Joaquin County. Two others were located west of Interstate 5, between Twin Cities and Dierssen roads, in Sacramento County. A fifth site was located on Webb Tract Island in Contra Costa County.

Wildlife officers – with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the California Highway Patrol, the El Dorado Sheriff’s Department, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department and the Elk Grove Police Department – made the arrests at residences and businesses in various locations in Sacramento, Lodi, Galt and Elk Grove. Officers also confiscated five vehicles, a boat/trailer, and recovered one stolen firearm.

CDFW is heavily involved in operations to rid California of illegal marijuana grows, which are becoming an increasing problem in the state as the historic drought wears on.

Marijuana growers steal substantial amounts of water, exacerbating severe drought conditions. Marijuana plants use six to eight gallons of water per plant, per day, and are a direct hazard to wildlife that eat the plants or drink from contaminated water stores. Wildlife is also frequently poached at the grow sites. Law enforcement officials are also concerned that people walking or hiking could be in danger if they accidentally come across a marijuana cultivation site, as illicit growers usually carry weapons.

CalTIP (Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, please call 1-888-334-CALTIP (888-334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For a brief video shot by wildlife officers on the day of the takedown, see file folder: Sep4MarijuanaOp at ftp://ftp.dfg.ca.gov/oceo/.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

CDFW, Partner Agencies Conclude Operation Yurok in Humboldt County

Marijuana Eradication Effort Focused on Misuse of Water and Habitat

Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently participated in a large-scale, multi-agency operation to address the devastating effects of illegal marijuana cultivation on fish, wildlife and the environment in northern California’s watersheds. The four-day mission concluded Thursday, July 16.

Operation Yurok, July 2015
Operation Yurok, July 2015
Operation Yurok, July 2015
Operation Yurok, July 2015

Allied law enforcement agencies including the State Water Resources Control Board, Yurok Tribal Police, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and federal law enforcement teamed with CDFW wildlife officers to serve dozens of search warrants, investigate pollution and water diversion crimes, and eradicate numerous marijuana plants as part of the joint effort dubbed “Operation Yurok.”

More than 100 environmental violations of the Fish and Game Code were discovered and eight suspects were arrested. Charges are pending for additional suspects.

“This operation was about more than just the criminality of marijuana cultivation,” said Lieutenant DeWayne Little of CDFW’s Watershed Enforcement Team (WET). “At its roots, it was about protection of the environment.” Created by CDFW in the last year, WET is comprised of both law enforcement officers and biologists, whose primary mission is to take an all-encompassing approach to investigating and protecting waterways from diversion, obstructions, alteration, pollution and litter.

During this period of unprecedented drought, water conservation is gravely important. An average mature marijuana plant consumes an estimated six to 12 gallons of water per day.

“Operation Yurok” teams eradicated more than 29,000 thirsty marijuana plants from the area, which equates to hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day that will no longer be diverted and prevented from feeding the nearby Klamath River.

The Klamath River is considered by the locals to be the lifeline for many people. Water flows from the river must be great enough to sustain local drinking water needs and support successful salmon runs, which equate to a food source for the local Yurok tribe. Yurok Tribal members and other locals have expressed great concern about illegal marijuana grows in the area, due to the Klamath River’s historic low levels.

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Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

CDFW and Partners Raid Santa Cruz County Marijuana Grow

Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and other agencies arrested two suspects, cut down marijuana plants and removed hazardous materials from a Santa Cruz county waterway on July 15.

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Acting on an anonymous tip on the CalTIP line, wildlife officers — with assistance from CAL FIRE, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department and Santa Cruz County Code Enforcement — raided an illegal marijuana cultivation site in the upper reaches of the south fork of Vicente Creek off Robles Drive near Bonny Doon. The site had been set up on private property without the landowner’s permission and was diverting water from the creek.

Officers arrested two male suspects and cut down and removed 180 fully mature marijuana plants with an approximate value of $360,000. Officers also found and removed several pounds of hashish, fertilizer, dozens of butane canisters used to manufacture concentrated cannabis, and other harmful materials that cause direct damage to the environment of Vicente Creek. CDFW officers conducted a full reclamation of the site.

“These marijuana cultivation sites are not only illegal but the trash left behind causes tremendous damage to the environment,” said CDFW Assistant Chief Brian Naslund. “Our officers are working hard around the state to find and remove these cultivation sites, keep harmful chemicals from entering state waters and ensure public safety.”

Marijuana cultivation is becoming an increasing problem in California as the historic drought wears on.

“Illegal marijuana growers steal substantial amounts of water, exacerbating our severe drought conditions,” said Naslund. “Marijuana plants use six to eight gallons of water per plant, per day, and are a direct hazard to wildlife that eats the plants.”

Law enforcement officials are also concerned that that hikers and walkers could be in danger if they accidentally come across a marijuana cultivation site. Illegal growers often carry weapons.

The suspects were taken into custody and will be charged with multiple violations including streambed alteration, pollution and placement of hazardous materials on the property of another.

The lower Vicente Creek is the southernmost salmon stream in California. It is a historic waterway that supports both anadromous steelhead and endangered Central Coast Coho salmon.

CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, please call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (888-334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Media Contact:
Lt. John Nores, CDFW Enforcement, (408) 591-5174
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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Multi-Agency Operation Breaks Up Elaborate Marijuana Camp

Media Contacts:
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.

Multi-Agency Marijuana Sting in the Sacramento River Delta Leads to Major Cleanup Effort

Media Contact:
Lt. Patrick Foy, Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095

A major multi-agency marijuana bust in the Sacramento River Delta has resulted in four arrests, the destruction of 9,010 plants and cleanup of 2,500 pounds of garbage, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reported.

Routine reconnaissance of the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta area identified a suspected illegal marijuana grow on the westernmost point of Grand Island. The Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigations Team (MAVMIT), headed by the California Department of Justice, conducted surveillance at the site and confirmed the presence of multiple growers.

On May 15, MAVMIT, the CDFW’s Marijuana Eradication Team (MET), the Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Program (DBEEP) and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department raided the site. They apprehended Juan Maciel, 35, Uriel Morales, 25, David Bailon, 28, and Cambrino Gutierrez, 25, all citizens of Mexico. All four suspects face charges of felony conspiracy, felony cultivation of marijuana, pollution crimes associated with marijuana cultivation and illegal diversion of water from the Delta. Officers also found two of the suspects in possession of $5,000 in cash. The suspected illicit proceeds were seized.

“In addition to the drug and pollution related crimes, the illegal diversion of water to irrigate 9,010 marijuana plants further exacerbates the drought conditions facing the state,” said CDFW Assistant Chief Brian Naslund.

Cleanup teams destroyed plants and dismantled the substantive infrastructure of the cultivation operation. Crews also collected an estimated 2,500 lbs. of garbage, including hundreds of pounds of fertilizers and pesticides.

Pictures and video of the cleanup are available at ftp://ftp.dfg.ca.gov/oceo.