Fresno Co authorities make pot field bust

September 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Action News learned exclusive details Friday afternoon as authorities chopped down a field of pot hidden in a huge vegetable garden.

Fresno County deputies say the growers are from out of state but decided to plant their marijuana in the Valley.

A helicopter pilot spotted the grow site near Marks and Church.

The pot field is just off a dirt road. Deputies and federal agents say the growers lived there in huts to protect their pot. Now many of them are facing federal charges.

These suspects hid their faces as deputies hauled them off to jail. Deputies say the growers stood guard using weapons to protect their plants - plants that are no longer standing.

"Obviously you can tell, this is well beyond the scope of medical marijuana. This is for profiteering. What somebody is growing to sell and make money for," Lt. Rick Ko of the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said.

Lt. Rick Ko says the federal Operation Mercury, which combats the growing of marijuana under the guise of medical purposes, brought them to a pot field that yielded more than 2900 plants..

While they worked to haul off the plants, they found another field right next to it - smaller and hidden between melons.

"The growers of these crops are also the growers of these and these produce a lot more than this whole plot-100 plants produce a lot more than this 5 acre parcel," Lt. Ko said.

They also found about 100 pound of processed and ready-for-sale marijuana.

This is just the beginning of their efforts. They've got their eye on some 300 "hot spots" in Fresno County - spots they'll soon hit before the drug hits the streets.

"If you sell it here, wholesale, you may get $1500 to $2000 dollars a pound. When you take it to other states and other areas it will command between $3500 and $4500 right now," Lt. Ko said.

The plants they cut down from the grow had a street value of more than $26 million. Five are facing federal charges and 2 more are still under investigation.


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