The Riverside County Sheriff’s department announced the eradication of an additional six illegal marijuana grows in the Anza area Friday, April 15.
A total of six people were arrested and 25,700 marijuana plants were eradicated from the properties. Three firearms and U.S. currency in an undisclosed amount were also seized and taken into evidence, according to a press release issued by the agency.
The press release reported that the Riverside Sheriff’s Department Special Investigations Bureau; Marijuana Enforcement team served six warrants as a “result of criminal investigations involving illegal marijuana grow operations on individual property parcels in the unincorporated community of Anza Thursday, April 14, at 7 a.m.
The investigations involved six, separate, large marijuana grow operations which included indoor “Greenhouse type structures.” During the search warrant service and subsequent investigations, it was determined that the six marijuana grows were all in violation of illegally cultivating marijuana.
Chan Pheng Nakhonethap, 40, Jose Martin Franco, 29, Alejandro Pacheco, 47 and Daniel Ponce, 60 all of Anza, Francisco Javier-Salcedo Ponce, 34, of San Francisco and Alfredo Lopez, 21, of Perris were all arrested for violations of the California Health and Safety Code and booked into the Southwest Detention Center.
The arrests come after a lengthy investigation by the department which is reporting experiencing “increase in the number of criminal investigations involving illegal cultivation of marijuana; particularly with outdoor grow-houses,” and is part of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s efforts to curb the ongoing problem of illegal grows in Anza Valley and the surrounding areas.
According to the press release, the Sheriff’s Department began identifying an increase in the number of outdoor marijuana grows in 2011, with a slight increase each year.
“The department is determined to aggressively investigate each reported illegal marijuana cultivation, utilizing all available resources and personnel,” the report reads.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department would like to remind residents that while growing marijuana has been decriminalized in the state of California, it is still illegal, no matter what the circumstances.
“In the State of California, cultivating marijuana which includes every person who plants, cultivates, harvests, dries, or processes any marijuana is illegal. California law has only DECRIMININALIZED (Not Legalized) marijuana cultivation and the use of marijuana by seriously ill individuals who have a physician’s recommendation,” the press release reported. “This means that person(s) who cultivates and/or possesses marijuana for their personal medical needs or the medical needs of a person they are a caregiver for will have a legal defense for cultivating or possessing marijuana, as long as they do not exceed the amount of marijuana reasonably necessary for their medical condition. A medical marijuana recommendation from a doctor does not exempt a person from a criminal investigation, arrest or prosecution.”
A marijuana grow bust earlier this month, also shut down six illegal grows. In that leg of the investigations, deputies confiscated 15,301 marijuana plants that were taken into evidence and seven people were arrested. The plants eradicated during that investigation varied in size from fully mature to non-budding plants.
Anyone with additional information about these cases or who would like to report a suspected illegal marijuana cultivation should contact the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations Bureau at (951) 955-1720, or residents wishing to report a crime can contact the Marijuana Enforcement Team by going online to www.riversidesheriff.org/crimetips/ and filling out the form. Those reporting crimes can remain anonymous.
Also see: http://anzavalleyoutlook.com/local/anza-drug-bust-regional-implications/