California Pot Growing Season Hits Peak

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Santa Clara County Sheriff
    This is a photo of the latest marijuana growing operation bust in the South Bay.

    California is at the height of its illegal marijuana growing season, according to authorities in Northern California.

    As a result, officers up and down the state have their hands full busting pot growing operations.

    On Wednesday the formal Marijuana Eradication Team of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office found and destroyed four pot farms in a remote section of the county.

    Two "gardens" were uncovered in Madonna County Park and two on nearby private property.  

    Combined the confiscated pot covered an area the size of an NFL football field. The total number of plants destroyed was 10,000, with an estimated street value of $10-15 million.

    .Although this is the time of year most pot plants are in full bloom, Wednesday's bust netted young plants not even big enough to have buds. Sheriff's officers mowed the plants down after being brought in via helicopter and dropped by ropes into the area.

    No arrests were made Wednesday.

    The busts were executed by a sheriff's department team in cooperation with the California Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Agency and the California Department of Fish and Game.

    The latter organization contracts haz-mat-qualified crews to dispose of car batteries and fertilizer usually left at the grow sites, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

    "It can be very expensive, and the tax payers are paying for it," said Hughan, who was not involved in the Santa Clara bust but has experience with the eradication of marijuana fields.

    He said clean-up efforts could cost tens of thousands of dollars as the Department of Fish and Game work to remove debris that pollute nearby streams used to irrigate the marijuana, and kill wildlife who unknowingly eat poisonous materials left behind.

    Southern California has not been exempt from this week's ramped up raids on marijuana fields and Hughan said it is not uncommon for mass-growers to set up shop on large swaths of public land.

    Ventura County Sheriff's officials seized nearly 68,500 plants Monday valued at $205.46 million in the largest single seizure in the Pine Mountain area of Los Padres National Forest.

    Several campsites including tents, propane stoves, sleeping bags, fertilizers, pesticides and trash were found around the patches of marijuana, as well as handguns, rifles and ammunition, according to the Los Angeles Times.