Agents from the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency continue their eradication effort in dismantling large illegal Marijuana grows across the county, including in Turlock. One grow had produced some of the largest marijuana plants ever seized by agents. All three search warrant raids were a result of anonymous tips received by the task force.
According to Modesto Police Department Lieutenant Rick Armendariz, the raids began on Tuesday, August 28th, at a 40-acre chicken ranch in the 11000 block of Yosemite Boulevard, in Waterford. Drug agents discovered the outdoor marijuana grow in between two abandoned chicken barns. Investigators seized approximately 491 plants, which weighed 8,880 pounds. Agents estimate the street value, once the marijuana was harvested and processed, to be $1.2 million. The location of this illegal marijuana grow was 400 feet from Waterford High School.
Four suspects were arrested for cultivation at this location, including: John Lee, 53 of Waterford, Kathy Lee, 53 of Waterford, Khon Phommavahn, 36 of Waterford, and Ricky Saeteurn, 39 of Waterford.
Narcotic agents continued with their efforts and on Wednesday, August 29th, they served two additional search warrants. Task force agents started their morning by seizing a illegal marijuana grow of approximately 130 plants at a ranchette in the 5600 block of Hammett Road, in Modesto.
Two suspects were arrested for cultivation at this location, including: Patrick Fletcher, 21 of Salida, and Tyrone Garden, 43 of Salida.
Later in the day, task force agents went to a ranch in the 1000 block of South Mitchell Road in Turlock, to serve their third search warrant. Agents discovered an illegal outdoor marijuana grow in the middle of a 40-acre cornfield. The 187 marijuana plants were surrounded by a fence, in an attempt to conceal their location.
Although this seizure was not as large a scale as the task force is accustomed to seeing, they were awed at the size of the marijuana plants. Agents equated this grow with being equivalent to walking through a Christmas tree lot.
“These were some of the biggest marijuana plants we have seen in several years” said Modesto Police Sergeant Jason Grogan, who is a supervisor for the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency.
The plants had a weight of 12,000 pounds and an estimated street value of $750,000. No one was located at the property and no arrests were made.
“We will continue our mission of dismantling illegal drug operations to include the eradication of illegally possessed marijuana” said Sergeant Grogan. “We appreciate the help and support from the community in aiding us in identifying these illegal grows.”
The Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency is a multi-agency narcotic task force, which is comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The goal of the task force is to identify, disrupt, and ultimately dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating within the Central Valley.
Police ask anyone who may have information on illegal drug violations to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters can also text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with your message.