Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke is cracking down on illegal marijuana grows in his county.
Sheriff Warnke estimates there are about 100 illegal marijuana grows up and down Merced County.
Last week, deputies went to seven different locations throughout the county where they destroyed 18,514 marijuana plants, 9 pounds of cannabis, and recovered 2 firearms and a stolen 2015 Sting Ray Corvette, which was hidden at an indoor grow on White Crane Road near Atwater.
“We’ve seized dozens and dozens of guns this year alone and illegal guns,” Sheriff Warnke said.
Warnke said most of these illegal grows are being done by gangs or cartels.
In Merced County, people are allowed to grow six marijuana plants indoors.
Warnke said his deputies are not after the law-abidding citizen who are following the county ordinance.
In November, the sheriff’s office with the help of the DEA destroyed more than 540,000 marijuana plants from an illegal grow near Dos Palos.
Warnke said these illegal grows are happening on private property and most of the time the property owner is unaware of the grow.
The sheriff is working with county officials to come up with some type of ordinance that will put more responsibility on the property owner.
Sheriff Warnke’s message for people who are thinking of growing marijuana in his county.
“We’ve got our search warrants. We got our team and we’re going to continue to hit him. We’re not going to let up on it. If you’re going to grow the pot, don’t do it in my county because we will come after you,” he said.