30 arrested in massive Tulare County pot grow bust

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A massive pot grow in the South Valley was busted by Tulare County sheriff's officials this week, but not before millions of gallons of water was pulled from the underground aquifer.

Thirty people are in jail right now. All were arrested for running the highly sophisticated pot grow in Tulare County. Investigators say the street value is more than $27 million.

Growing so much marijuana takes a lot of water. Water officials say it's enough to supply a large city neighborhood.

An astonishing 10 acres of marijuana growing in 49 greenhouses was discovered on the property. South Valley investigators began working this case in January when a sheriff's office pilot spotted something fishy from his overhead view.

"Many if not all were surprised by us showing up yesterday morning," said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

Thirty people were taken into custody when Sheriff Boudreaux says 60 law enforcement officials moved in Thursday morning to shut down the grow site. 12,000 plants were ripped from the ground.

"For the month of April, it would have minimally been over 1.4 million gallons depleting aquifers, depriving our Ag partners of much needed water for use of this illegal marijuana grow site," Boudreaux said.

Putting that in perspective the average household in the city of Fresno uses just 8,000 gallons of water a month.

Given our severe drought situation, this Tulare County grow site is estimated to have used enough water to supply a large neighborhood. "That's the equivalent of a total monthly use from 231 households here in Fresno," said Fresno spokesperson Mark Standriff. "That's an incredible amount of water."

Investigators say it's a massive waste at one of the largest illegal grow sites in recent years. Sheriff Boudreaux says there's a high likelihood of more arrests to come following this bust.

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