Elaborate indoor marijuana grow in Merced County lands man in jail

MERCED, Calif.

Mario Alvarez, 35, was booked into the Merced County Jail on Friday.

The bust happened at a home on Highway 59 near Bellevue Road. Merced County Sheriff's deputies say they discovered more than $1.5 million worth of pot plants and processed marijuana inside a hidden laboratory in the home. They say the plants were being crossbred to make high-potency drugs to be sold on the streets.

"We uncovered a very sophisticated marijuana growing operation that it was more or less hidden; you had to access it through a trapped door through a closet that opened up into a growing room, a drying room, and almost a marijuana laboratory, which I'm standing in," said Deputy Clint Landrom.

Deputies say Alvarez didn't have the proper permit to grow medical marijuana, and had more than the 12 plants currently allowed under the county ordinance.

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