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Agents Raid Pot Growing Operation in West Marin

About 4,500 plants of an average height of 5 feet were being confiscated Tuesday by several law enforcement agencies.

About 4,500 marijuana plants were being ripped out of the soil on Marin Municipal Water District land in West Marin on Tuesday, one day after they were discovered by a warden passing through the remote area, according to the Marin County Sheriff's Department.

The plants, located about 18 miles west of Novato and just west of the Walker Creek Ranch, were pinpointed after California Department of Fish and Game warden came across a man wearing camouflage clothing and carrying pruning clippers walking along Marshall-Petaluma Road, said sheriff's Lt. Barry Heying.

At about 11 a.m. Monday, the warden determined that the man was associated with an illegal pot growing operation and called in sheriff's deputies to investigate. Members of the county's Marijuana Eradication Team conducted a raid that began early Tuesday morning amid thick manzanita bushes in an area spread out over about a quarter of a mile, Heying said.

Personnel from state Fish and Game, the California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, MMWD and the sheriff’s office participated in the raid and eradication effort, which continued into Tuesday afternoon. The estimated street value of the pot is unknown.

The plants averaged 5 feet tall and were fed by an elaborate irrigation system, Heying said. Agents reported finding rat traps, rodent poison, fertilizer and trash on the site as well. There was evidence of erosion damage, and pollution from chemicals and pesticides.

Heying said just the one suspect was arrested and that investigators were working to connect others to the operation. The arrested man was identified as an undocumented alien; he is in custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, Heying said.

"Those responsible for caring for and guarding marijuana grow sites also pose a  danger to hikers, bicyclists, ranchers and water district rangers who patrol the lands," Heying wrote in a release.

The location of the growing operation was in the 1400 block of Marshall-Petaluma Road, not far from Walker Creek Ranch, which is owned by the Marin County Office of Education and used as a science camp for school kids.

Anyone with information concerning this matter is encouraged to call the Marin County Sheriff’s Office at 415-473-7233 and could be eligible for a cash reward. To remain anonymous, call Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

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Rico September 12, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Substantial bust, good ! I wonder if it was on private property ? A guy dressed in camo walking on the road with pruners ? Lame brain. And where were they getting the water from ? The MMWD's Lake Soulajule that was built and is not used ? What I dislike the most is the rodent poisons, the fertilizers and the pesticides used. Now, if they could start busting farmers for using chemicals in conventional growing operations, that would be great. But we all know that using pesticides, fungicides, herbicides , GMO seeds and petroleum based fertilizers is "que bueno" everywhere, unless it is used for growing pot. I am shocked that the narcs didn't announce some wild inflated price of their immature harvest, something like $3000.00 per plant like they usually do. A five foot tall immature plant really is not worth anything at this point, but it might be later if it went the full course (if there was no mold). Think about all our tax money spent on this, and we get no ROI.
Craig Belfor September 12, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Right, Ricardo- they could sell it to the legal pot clubs and recover the cost of the operation.
Brent Ainsworth September 17, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Update on last week's pot grow raid: Final numbers place the number of mature plants at 5,400 with their sizes ranging from five to six feet in height. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates the retail value of the confiscated marijuana to be as high as $5.4 million. Also, the growing operation was on private ranch land; initially it was believed to be on Marin Municipal Water District land.
Craig Knowlton September 17, 2012 at 04:26 PM
They found about 2000 plants growing in and around this same area in August of last year.
Rico September 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Thanks Brent, I always thought that that grow was on private property and I don't remember seeing where it was thought to be on MMWD property. So, the feds think that those immature plants were worth $1000 each retail ? A gross overestimate I would say. And considering all the work processing, broker fees and other overhead costs, the actual net worth would probably be one tenth of what was estimated, still not bad even if split up between 20 people for a years work. But, this grow probably has been going on at that location for many years, and could have been for many more if that "camo dude" didn't blow it by walking down the road with his clippers on. I say good riddance to all that mid to low grade pot. And keep in mind, the clubs don't like pot that has chemicals on it, so it would have to go to the black market.

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