Marijuana grows threatens local drinking water

Marijuana grows threatens local drinking water The Kern County Sheriffs Office recently conducted an operation to take down numerous illegal marijuana grows in the unincorporated areas of Ridgecrest and Inyokern.

The operation took place alongside the Kern County Probation Department Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Bureau of Land Management (BLM), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, and Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS)

The Sheriffs Office had received numerous complaints from Kern County residents regarding illegal marijuana operations in the area and the increase in violent crime and trash that is directly linked to illicit cultivations.

The operators of the illegal marijuana grows steal and divert water. away from farmers and residents of the desert where water is precious.

Detectives and the Narcotics Investigations Unit (Kern County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force) identified and served search warrants at 10 illegal marijuana cultivation sites, as has been previously reported.

During this operation the Sheriffs Office eradicated 13,925 marijuana plants seized nearly 874 pounds of processed marijuana and seized 8 firearms. Twenty-nine were arrested for a variety of charges.

Not only are these illegal operations dangerous, they are especially harmful to the environment. Sheriffs Office located multiple unknown chemicals that were not labeled. One bottle was labeled with a sharpie, “Veneno Muerto” which translates to “poison death.”

Illicit marijuana growers use high powered pesticides to keep any bugs and animals away from their plants.

Because growers spray pesticides and add them to irrigation systems, the chemicals also seep to the soil and surrounding waterways, which can compromise the safety of people’s drinking water (US Department of Agriculture).

Many of these illegal grow sites are in remote, desert locations and can be difficult to access. While remediation efforts can become challenging and time consuming, the Kern County Sheriffs Office is dedicated to eradicating these illegal operations and keeping our community safe.

The Kern County Sheriffs Office thank the community for their help in identifying these illegal operations.

Anyone with information regarding an illegal marijuana grows is asked to contact KCSO at 661-86- 3110 or Secret Witness at 661-322-4040.

Courtesy photo: "Not only are these illegal operations dangerous, they’re especially harmful to the environment. The Sheriff’s Office located multiple unknown chemicals that were not labeled. One bottle was labeled with sharpie ’venemo muerto,’ which translates to ’poison death.’"

Story First Published: 2021-07-30