Fresno police find numerous marijuana grows near schools

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno police are shutting down marijuana gardens this harvest season. And they're zeroing in on those who are growing near schools.

Over the past two weeks, Fresno police have found pot grows at thirteen homes in the central and southwest areas -- many of them near Ewing and Burroughs Elementary schools.

Investigators say many of the crops were just about ready to be cut and dried when officers showed up to pull the plants. Officers have been keeping an eye on homes where marijuana is growing outdoors and especially those near schools. They are also handing out fines of $1,000 per plant. Fresno police woke up two women Thursday armed with a warrant, bolt cutters and a trailer to haul away 32 mature marijuana plants.

Sgt. Mark Hudson with the Fresno Police Department said, "At this place, they hadn't harvested yet. These plants are very large, they're bushy. They are probably about six feet tall and they have a lot of buds on them so they were ready to harvest these plants."

The overwhelming odor of marijuana filled the neighborhood, even before officers pulled a single plant. In the video taken by officers, you'll see footage in the backyard of the home near Belmont and Chestnut.

Detectives arrested 39-year-old Samuel Martinez at the home for felony cultivation. A 10-year-old child also lives in the home and Burroughs Elementary is a few blocks away. The latest bust, is part on an ongoing effort by police to raid home grows to reduce violent crime related to these pot gardens.

Sgt. Mark Hudson said, "We want to focus in neighborhoods where there could be problems associated with gunfire, takeovers in homes and innocent people being hurt."

Three pounds of processed marijuana was also taken during the search. Officers are acting on tips from neighbors, calls from informants and other investigative tools to track down where the drug is growing in neighborhoods. It is illegal to grow marijuana in Fresno, even if you have a medical marijuana card or recommendation.

During this entire operation, officers have collected 100 pounds of processed marijuana and arrested four suspects for growing it.

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