Law enforcement removes more than 540,000 marijuana plants from illegal grow near Dos Palos

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Miles and miles of illegal Marijuana plants.

Law enforcement agencies say it's one of the largest grows they've ever seen in the North Valley.

"We're talking about hundreds and hundreds and thousands of plants," United States Attorney for Eastern California District McGregor Scott said.

Merced County deputies alongside federal and state agencies served a search warrant on Monday morning after discovering nearly 200 acres of illegal marijuana plants on a farm near Dos Palos.

The federal affidavit references Chad Crivelli of Crivelli Farmland as the owner of the property sitting along Hutchins Road and Palm Avenue.

"It was a rancher who thought he was going to grow hemp, and it was shared with him by my office to not do it because we don't have enough in place to regulate it," Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said.

The final number of pot plants removed? More than 540,000.

Sheriff Vern Warnke says they've had 24-hour coverage on the property for the past week.

During that time, he says criminals attempted to steal several hundred pounds of product.

"It was people raiding the marijuana groves. We've taken four people into custody," said Sheriff Warnke. "Recovered two guns, and got the names from others in the area who were there to steal the product. That's why we enlisted the help of the federal government because it is so big."

The county currently prohibits people from growing Marijuana plants outside, and are only allowed to grow a total of six plants indoors.

While there are limits in place, both local and federal officials say they're constantly seeing people growing plants in big numbers.

"The presence of local state and federal law enforcement officers makes a strong statement that this growth is illegal under anybody's law, state, and federal," said Scott.

Sheriff Warnke says it's a growing problem in the county, one they plan to keep tackling.

"We've got laws in place for a reason, and once you violate those laws. We're going to take action," said Sheriff Warnke.
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