Feds raid Sanger pot farm, destroy thousands of plants
July 29, 2011
Thousands of marijuana plants were seized and destroyed, and at least 50 workers arrested as federal agents and Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies raided a giant pot plantation near Sanger on Thursday. [Fresno Bee]
The pot-growing operation had observation towers, neatly cultivated rows of plants in various stages of growth, living quarters for workers, surrounded by a barbed wire cyclone fence covered with plastic sheeting to prevent passersby from seeing into the compound.
But residents and police were aware that the farm had been in operation for some time. Sheriff Margaret Mims described the farm as part of “a domestic drug-trafficking cartel,” and said it wasn’t the first time deputies made arrests at the site.
Deputies assisted the Drug Enforcement Administration in November 2010 in a similar raid. The plants were removed but soon a new crop emerged.
Sheriff’s officials were not surprised. “It’s a huge problem in Fresno and in the whole state of California,” said Lt. Rick Ko.
In fact, federal agents are conducting raids in six northern California counties in a major pot-busting operation to rid the Mendocino National Forest of illegal grows. As of Monday, those raids had netted 300,000 plants and 77 arrests.
In Sanger, meanwhile, deputies worked 12 hours in 90-plus degree heat to tear up the field and remove the plants. Five were treated for heat-related illness and one was hospitalized but recovering.