Dozens arrested, thousands of plants destroyed during illegal pot grow crackdown in Fresno County

Local News

FRESNO COUNTY, California. (KSEE) The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office wrapped up Operation Sentinel with a massive haul after targeting illegal pot grows.

Detectives with the Special Investigations Task Force spent an entire week raiding a total of 75 grows.

“Some of these operations were a bit smaller, some were very large having 20,000 plus plants in one location,” sheriff’s office spokesperson Tony Botti said.

He said most of the grows were in the foothills or mountain areas.

Nearly 75,000 plants were destroyed and 37 people were arrested. Detectives also found processed marijuana, honey oil and firearms. The estimated street value of all marijuana seized was nearly $250 million.

Botti said the majority of locations were run by drug trafficking organizations including Mexican cartels, Asian organized criminal operations and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“I think what people need to understand is you have these drug trafficking organizations or cartels and they’re using our lands to profit,” Botti said.

He said the groups do more than produce and distribute marijuana illegally, they’re also pushing meth, heroin and fentanyl as well acting out violently.

“So it’s more than just marijuana these are very very dangerous people with deep pockets that are putting our residents in danger,” he said.

Fines for the landowners behind the grows are estimated at more than $5 million.

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