Illegal Marijuana Grow Operation


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On Tuesday, June 22, 2021 and Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, along with 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) conducted an operation to take down numerous illegal marijuana grows in the unincorporated areas of Ridgecrest and Inyokern.
The Sheriff’s Office has 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 are stealing and diverting water away from Kern County farmers and residents of the desert, where water is precious.
Detectives with the Narcotics Investigations Unit (Kern County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force) identified and served search warrants at 10 illegal marijuana cultivation sites. During this operation, the Sheriff’s Office eradicated 13,925 marijuana plants, seized nearly 874 pounds of processed marijuana, and seized 8 firearms.
29 adults were arrested for a variety of charges, including:
-HS 11358; Cultivation of marijuana
-HS 11359; Possession of marijuana for sales
-HS 11366; Keep/maintain place for narcotics sales
-PC 182(a)(1); Conspiracy to commit crime
-PC 148(a)(1); Resist, delay or obstruct
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, “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 into the soil and surrounding waterways, which can compromise the safety of people’s drinking water (U.S. 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 Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to eradicating these illegal operations and keeping our community safe.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the community for their help in identifying these illegal operations. Anyone with information regarding an illegal marijuana grow is asked to contact KCSO at (661) 861-3110 or Secret Witness at (661) 322-4040.

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