Authorities with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office destroyed 5,473 illegal marijuana plants worth an estimated $2.7 million dollars in a two-day eradication operation in the Cuyama Valley.
Detectives assigned to the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Bureau and Criminal Investigations Bureau, with assistance from two deputies assigned to the New Cuyama Sheriff’s substation, executed the first search warrant at a property in the 1600 block of Santa Barbara Canyon Road on Sept. 25, 2018, where they not only found two rifles, a small amount of cocaine, and over $9,000 dollars in cash, but also a large marijuana grow consisting of 1,955 marijuana plants.
Authorities add that three Hispanic adult men were fleeing into the foothills as investigators entered the property. However, due to several outbuildings and widespread marijuana grow, detectives were not able to go after the individuals until they secured the property. A law enforcement helicopter helped search for the men but was unable to find them. They remain on the loose.
The Sheriff’s Office says that same day, authorities raided a rural property accessed by Wasioja Road and found a large camp containing approximately 2,318 marijuana plants, which they subsequently destroyed.
While no suspects were found, authorities noticed large amounts of trash from people camping at that location including various grow chemicals, says the Sheriff’s Office who explained it’s possible any suspects that may have been in the area could have fled when they saw law enforcement due to the vantage point of the roads entering the property.
The next day, on Sept. 26, 2018, detectives served a search warrant at a property in the 8300 block of Foothill Road in the Cuyama Valley. There they found a large marijuana grow with several camping trailers. Authorities say no suspects were found but they located evidence the suspects had been there within the past day.
A small puppy was also discovered huddled around growing chemicals at this property and appeared sick, says the Sheriff’s Office. It was turned over to the Santa Barbara County Animal Services to be cared for.
The Sheriff’s team destroyed approximately 1,200 marijuana plants at the Foothill Road location.
Authorities say these cultivation sites did not have any licenses from the State of California or the County of Santa Barbara to operate legally, “nor had the responsible individuals attempted to obtain proper licensing.”
The Sheriff’s Office explains they will go after any illegal marijuana cultivation sites within Santa Barbara County with the goal to stop the illegal cultivation of cannabis and prevent the environmental crimes associated with these illegal grows.