Sept. 17, 2013
Misty Volaski, firstname.lastname@example.org
In a two-week period, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department (VCSD) Narcotics Bureau has eradicated more than 9,000 marijuana plants and 500 pounds of drying marijuana from the Los Padres National Forest. No arrests have been made in either find.
According to a VCSD press release, the 9,000 plants were found in five plots near the popular Ortega Trail in late August, and were located by an aerial reconnaissance mission by the VCSD Air Unit. The marijuana plants were up to 8 feet tall and heavily budded. Due to the size and quantity of the marijuana plants, a full size stake bed was required to transport the seized drugs for destruction. Investigators were assisted by the Sheriff’s Air Unit, a Ventura County Fire Department hand crew, and the California Department of Justice, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting in the eradication effort.
Last week, about 1,500 cut and drying marijuana plants — totaling about 500 pounds — were found on the southern slope of Pine Mountain by deer hunters, who notified authorities. Near the growers’ camp, the corpse of a young black bear was also found. VCSD information officer Capt. Don Aguilar said it was unclear how the bear had been killed, but said that narcotics detectives believe it had been killed illegally by the marijuana growers.
Narcotics detectives pulled a total of three tons of marijuana off of the two cultivation sites, and Aguilar said there are likely more sites that have not yet been found. However, he added, the drought is affecting where growers are choosing to plant, as there are fewer streams from which to draw water to irrigate their crop. “The upper elevations are more where the water is … that’s really the only water source up there right now,” Aguilar said. “But even way up there in the Pine Mountain area, there’s not a whole lot of water.”
Growers often begin their operations in April, Aguilar noted, and VCSD eradication efforts often continue into October and sometimes later. As such, the VCSD urges hikers, cyclists and anyone planning on going into the backcountry to be cautious and aware. “Irrigation pipes, bags of fertilizer and people who appear to be unequipped for hiking in remote areas,” the VCSD press release said, “are possible indications that you may be near a marijuana cultivation. If you come across these or similar circumstances, leave the area immediately and contact law enforcement.”