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Increase in Illegal Pot Grows in Ag Fields

Valley farm fields are being used to camouflage illegal marijuana grows. These operations are dangerous and are hurting local farmers.
Valley farm fields are being used to camouflage illegal marijuana grows. These operations are dangerous and are hurting local farmers.

Manuel Cunha, with the Nisei Farmers League says more and more illegal marijuana grows are being found on farms in Fresno county.

"In the middle of the trees you could have marijuana growing. Or a vegetable field you think it's vegetables," Cunha said.

On Monday 2,300 marijuana plants were found by Fresno County Sheriff's deputies in a bitter melon field in Sanger. They were growing on a 20 acre lot.

Friday deputies found 14,000 plants tucked in the rows of a corn field while armed guards patrolled the grow in Sanger.

"These folks carry guns and these crops are worth millions. They will take out a farmer just as much as a farm worker," Cunha said.

Cunha said often farmers are duped into renting out land to fake farmers and don't know until it's to late what's really going on.

He says these marijuana grows affects other farmers water supply as well.

"These people are using fertilizers and chemicals that farmers in some cases can't use but they are causing havoc with the ground water supply," Cunha said.

He is also concerned about the farm workers, whom he believes are being exploited.

"The people who are taking care of these crops are probably people who are innocent farm workers or innocent community people. That they have to do this. If not then some innocent family member will be hurt," he said.

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