|Local tourism is expected to be down and motels will close as there
will be no other reason to come to Nevada City now that there are no
medicinal herbs to soothe one's souls. It is a sad day in this
community from 1850s to have to end this way. Still missing is the
Mexican, a graduate of UC Davis in plant science. There is a rumor
that alpaca ranches and red worm farms with replace this lost
resource and the tourists will return for nice sweaters and rich top
Cops raid pot plots
Street value estimated at $12M
By Robyn Moormeister
Staff writer, email@example.com
July 26, 2006
EARLY TUESDAY morning, local, state and federal law enforcement officers surprised a man maintaining his marijuana gardens on a mountainside near the town of Washington.Ten miles away from our plantation.
The man, who officers believed to be a Mexican national, was sitting in his campsite clothed in camouflage, clipping the buds off some plants and listening to his Walkman when nearly 30 officers crept up on him.
“Sheriff’s Office!” yelled Bennett. “Stop!”
As the bewildered man ran down a steep ridge toward the Yuba River, he left his loaded .22 rifle at the campsite alongside the marijuana.
No officers gave chase, as they were concerned that the man may lead them into booby traps, which authorities say is a common problem with Mexican drug cartel gardens.
A Jet Ranger helicopter from the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) searched for about 30 minutes but was unable to spot the man.
Officers rummaged through two campsites, finding two pellet guns, a rat trap — often used for booby traps — and the remnants of several months of camping by at least four people, most likely recruited to maintain and live at the garden by a Mexican drug cartel family.
“These guys have a lot of explaining to do to someone,” said Nevada county Sheriff’s Lt. Ron Smith.
Empty cans of corned beef, beans and vegetables filled trash bags that hung from trees. Several pounds of tortillas, pints of cooking oil and thinning rolls of toilet paper were strewn on the ground on tarps near a tent, which housed a notebook, some dirty blankets and a few toothbrushes.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force Case Agent Robby Bringolf reached into the dirt and picked up a pair of men’s boxer shorts, playfully offering them to other officers, who shook their heads.
“Everyone needs a good pair of boxers,” he said.
The officers — from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Detail, Grass Valley Police Department’s Special Incident Team, United States Forest Service, the Department of Fish and Game, Sierra County Sheriff’s Office and CAMP — removed 4,190 marijuana plants and approximately 60 pounds of the processed weed from two illegal gardens below the campsites.I love this. There is military force out there in the forest and they have someone (the counter?) who counted 4190 plants.
The total eradication yielded 960 pounds of marijuana plants.
After decorating their camouflage hats with marijuana buds and leaves and taking a few pictures with their camera phones, officers “whacked and stacked,” cutting down plants with machetes and axes and bundling them up for removal by the CAMP helicopter.
The plants, 4 to 5 feet tall with well-developing buds, grew in neat rows with the aid of an extensive irrigation system.
The growers had moved the water from a nearby creek with gravity and PVC pipe.
The street value of the seized plants was an estimated $12 million.
“The money from these grows also perpetuate the meth superlabs,” Smith said, adding that Mexican “superlabs” are located mainly in Southern California and are capable of producing 10 pounds of methamphetamine per day.
No one was hurt in Tuesday’s massive eradication, the largest bust Nevada County has seen since 2000, when the sheriff’s task force removed 1,500 plants from the Ridge.
Smith said prosecution is not likely. The growers’ fingerprints are likely not on file with the sheriff’s office, so any fingerprints collected at the campsites are probably useless.
And if they were caught, he said, they wouldn’t talk because the cartel bosses would most likely have their families killed.
“These guys probably didn’t even know where they were,” Smith said. “They’re brought in at night and they don’t leave. They get (food) deliveries.”
He said the growers had been living near the gardens since April.
The marijuana growing season starts in mid-April with harvests ending in late September or early October. Pre-season enforcement this year by CAMP has resulted in the seizure of more than 50,000 plants, the eradication of nine gardens and the arrest of three people.
Created in 1983, CAMP is a multi-agency law enforcement task force managed by the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and composed of local, state and federal agencies.
The marijuana gathered Tuesday morning was delivered to the sheriff’s office, hauled away in a dump truck and buried, Smith said.
The location of the burial, he said, is confidential.