Neighbors on-edge after Squaw Valley marijuana bust

Investigators want your help to find anyone with connections to a large and illegal marijuana operation in the Fresno County foothills. (KFSN)
April 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigators want your help to find anyone with connections to a large and illegal marijuana operation in the Fresno County foothills. Deputies say the elaborate set up in Squaw Valley indicates whoever is responsible is a professional criminal and the grow looks similar to a cartel operation.

To an outsider, Sage Lane in Squaw Valley is picture perfect. But for neighbors this lush foothill community is turning into a frightening place to call home.

"They feel scared, they feel intimidated, they feel angry," said Migel Gomez.

Gomez and others who live here are happy deputies cut down about 900 plants on the property. Neighbors say criminals are bringing potential violence to the area and draining a precious resource this historically dry year.

"We got a limited water supply and we need all the water we can get," added Gomez.

Investigators uncovered the operation on Thursday of three different green houses. The grow itself was sophisticated and temperature controlled with guard dogs for protection. Detectives told Action News a single harvest could fetch up to $1.5 million.

"Some of the criminals are getting smarter in the way they are growing the plants instead of getting one big grow they are getting three harvests a year which makes more money obviously," said deputy Chris Curtice.

Current Fresno County laws bans all growing inside or outside -- anywhere in unincorporated areas of the county. Detectives say they'll take an aggressive approach to go after any offenders.

"This particular grow there were two medical marijuana recommendations," said Curtice. He added, "One was for 90 plants the other was for 99 but they had just under 900 so that's not reasonable. 99 plants are not reasonable either. We're taking it serious. We're not going to stop."

Deputies are still looking for the suspects who are from Tulare County. Investigators say when they find them, the owners of the property will face $882,000 in fines and charges for the possession and illegal cultivation of marijuana.