Fresno County sheriff's deputies enforce new ban on pot grows

Fresno County sheriff's deputies are hitting the streets early this year to enforce a new ban on all indoor and outdoor marijuana grows.
February 12, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Fresno County sheriff's deputies are hitting the streets early this year to enforce a new ban on all indoor and outdoor marijuana grows. The enforcement includes grow operations designated for medicinal purposes.

Since this ordinance passed, deputies have been getting a lot of calls from Fresno County residents turning in their neighbors, tenants and even friends for illegally growing pot. Narcotics officers are following up and finding some are no longer willing to risk the fines and jail time to grow this cash crop.

It is weeks earlier than usual to be raiding pot farms but Fresno County sheriff's deputies are taking down even the smaller grows this year.

Last week, investigators confronted two renters operating a 500 plant grow outside Kerman. Deputies returned Tuesday to find the all the plants plucked from the ground and gone. Action News spoke to one of the growers on the condition we not reveal his identity.

"My ankle is gonna be hurting, but not going to jail is worth it," the grower said.

Miles away, investigators showed up at another home in Western Fresno County where nearly one thousand plants were found in all different stages of growth.

Four adults were arrested and taken to jail. Through interpreters they told deputies they did not participate in growing the pot, and they only used small quantities. Although they did have medical marijuana cards, investigators say it was irrelevant based on the size of this grow.

"If you are growing marijuana in Fresno County, you are going to jail or you are going to be held liable civilly. We're going to go after you any way we can," Chris Curtice with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said.

What deputies did not expect to find, was what they uncovered in a minivan that belonged to one of the suspects. They found a diaper bag full of pre-packaged marijuana for sale. The dope was stored in wipe containers next to diapers. Also found in the same car was close to 11 grams of meth.

In addition to being arrested, growers can also face hefty civil fines. The grow taken down Tuesday has had prior complaints in the past, but because it wasn't large, deputies never raided it.


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