KERN COUNTY - On June 22 -23, 2021, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Kern County Probation Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service conducted an operation to take down numerous illegal marijuana grows in the unincorporated areas of Ridgecrest and Inyokern.
The operation was the result of numerous complaints from Kern County residents regarding illegal marijuana operations in the area, and the increase in violent crime and trash that is linked to illicit cultivations. The operators of the illegal marijuana grows often steal and divert water away from Kern County farmers and residents of the desert.
Law enforcement officers identified and served search warrants at 10 illegal marijuana cultivation sites. During this operation, 13,925 marijuana plants were eradicated, and nearly 874 pounds of processed marijuana and eight firearms were seized.
Twenty-nine 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
“It is important that law enforcement officers investigate the many illegal cannabis cultivation sites in California as they directly impact public safety, water and power supplies, as well as our fish and wildlife,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “These are not law abiding community members interested in the health and safety of their neighbors.”
According to the sheriff’s office, law enforcement officers located containers of unknown chemicals that were not labeled. One bottle that was labeled had “veneno muerto” written on it, 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).