Twenty-nine arrests made of illegal marijuana grows

Twenty-nine arrests made of illegal marijuana growsLast week, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, led an operation to take down numerous illegal marijuana grows in the unincorporated areas of Ridgecrest and Inyokern. Twenty-nine growers, ages 19-65, have been arrested during this operation. Among the charges are: conspiracy to commit crime, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, Keep place, Sel/ETC, which means any person who operates or maintains any place for purpose of unlawfully selling or growing any illegal plants.

Assisting in the operation was the Kern County Probation Department, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

A number of the marijuana grows were brought to the attention of The News Review several weeks ago. We have been working closely with the Sheriff’s office in this investigation.

Acres upon acres of marijuana farms have been spotted in this area. These sites significantly damage cultural resources by introducing harmful pesticides such as carbofuran. Other dangerous chemicals have been also been found at the sites. The introduction of these pesticides contaminate the soil and eventually these contaminates filter into the aquifer.

Now with the dismantling of these sites, we have excessive amounts of trash blowing across the desert including plastic irrigation tubing and shreds of plastic from the greenhouses.

According to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, these sites are popping up throughout the State of California. The Sheriff’s office is watching all areas of Kern County and working with neighboring Antelope Valley ( LA County Law Enforcement). Marijuana investigations are labor intense. We are also dealing with new record increasing number of homicides, two just on Monday and Tuesday. In 2011 California had 175,000 state prisoners. Currently we have about 90,000 because of the prisoners that are being released and are now back on our streets.

Sarah Carter of Fox News, and California Congressmen Mike Garcia, (25 district) have been leading an investigation of the illegal marijuana farms, from the Mexican border to the Antelope Valley. AV carrot and alfalfa growers are gravely concerned about the water the marijuana growers are taking from their agricultural pursuits. Carter, states that these farms are being financed and promoted by the Mexican Drug Cartels.

The Kern County Sheriff’s office request that any notice of suspicious activity or anyone having information regarding these marijuana sites please call 661-391-7566 or 661-477-2998.

Laura Austin photo: This dismantled illegal marijuana grow is located on South Neal Ranch Rd., Inyokern. This is one of numerous sites in the area, that have been shut down by law enforcement.

Story First Published: 2021-07-02