2 arrested for marijuana grow in Madera County laced with dangerous chemicals

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's a problem both federal and state authorities say is wreaking havoc on land, and even poisoning citizens.

"It's happening in the national forest, and it's unacceptable," said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott.

In the last few years, the U.S. attorney says they've arrested hundreds for illegal marijuana grows on federal lands.

The most recent? Right in the Central Valley.

Dozens of agents found a grow tucked in Madera County near Dutch Oven Creek where they found more than 5,000 plants and illegal chemicals.

"They found several bottles containing carbon fury... it's so toxic it's not allowed to be used in the U.S.," Scott said.

"Over half a gallon of carbofuran that is banned, where only an eighth of a teaspoon can kill a human being...we find half a gallon of that," said Dr. Mourad Gabriel with the IERC.

Scott says two were arrested on site. Both were illegal immigrants, a commonality U.S. attorney Mcgregor Scott says he's seeing in these grow busts.

"We've prosecuted hundreds of person, without exception..they're all here illegally and all undocumented from Mexico," Scott said.

Drug Enforcement Agency administrators say the grows take a toll on the environment, as criminals clear cut trees and divert water.

"Our ecosystem is being destroyed by what these drug traffickers are doing," said Utom Dhillon.

It's an ongoing problem, and one federal and local officials don't plan to stop fighting.

"We want to find the people funding these operations," Scott said.

The two arrested in Madera County are now behind bars in Fresno.

The suspects face charges for conspiracy to manufacture, distribute or possess marijuana.

The penalty could be anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.
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