- Monday July 18th, 2011 :: 06:52 a.m. PDT
Sheriff's Investigators Discover Large Marijuana Cultivation in Pine Mountain Area of Los Padres National Forest
Nature of Incident: Marijuana Cultivation / Eradication
Location: Los Padres National Forest North of Ojai
Date & Time/ RB#: July 13, 2011
Unit Responsible: Special Services – Narcotics – West County Street Team
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses City of Residence Age
In June of 2011, Sheriff’s Narcotics investigators located a large marijuana growing operation in the Los Padres National Forest, north of the city of Ojai. Several large plots were found on the north slope of Pine Mountain, east of Highway 33 and south of Lockwood Valley Road.
On July 13, 2011, members of the Sheriff’s Narcotic Unit, Sheriff’s Air Unit, Sheriff’s Gang Unit, Sheriff’s Intelligence Unit, Ventura County District Attorneys Office, Ventura County Fire Department, Oxnard Police Department and the United States Forest Service (USFS) participated in the eradication operation.
After being airlifted to various sites on the mountain, investigators discovered several campsites used by the growers. These consisted of several hundred pounds of equipment including tents, propane stoves, sleeping bags, fertilizers, pesticides, along with and an enormous amount of trash. Detectives located a 9mm handgun, a .22 caliber rifle and ammunition for a variety of other handguns and rifles. There was evidence of poaching as the remains of deer and other small animals were located near the camps.
Several water reservoirs, lined with plastic tarps, were found dug into the terrain. These reservoirs were supplied by water diverted from their natural course. Gravity fed irrigation lines led to the cultivation locations. Several thousand feet of irrigation hose was spread throughout the hillside to provide water to the plants.
Huge sections of land had been terraced and the underbrush removed, leaving only a thin canopy to hide the growing marijuana. Bags of fertilizer, pesticides and poisons were found within each of the cultivation areas.
Approximately 68,488 marijuana plants were eradicated during this operation, making this the single largest cultivation seized in Ventura County history. Estimated street value of the marijuana is $205,464,000. This brings the season total for eradicated marijuana to over 100,000 plants. No suspects have been arrested at this time, however, the investigation is continuing.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office would like to warn those using the Ventura County backcountry to be on the lookout for marijuana growers. The high rainfall this year has produced optimum growing conditions in the mountains. If suspicious activity is found, please notify law enforcement as soon as possible.
Officer Preparing Release: Sgt Mike Horne
Follow-up Contact: Sgt Mike Horne
Date of Release: July 13, 2011
Approved By: Captain Don Aguilar
Ventura County Sheriff's Office
800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93009