On Thursday, July 22, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s detectives began ripping up a field of 5,800 marijuana plants discovered in a rugged canyon east of Mariposa Reina on the Gaviota Coast.
The grow was found on private property, but the owners were reportedly not involved in the illegal operation.
According to spokesperson Drew Sugars, Sheriff’s narcotics officers and members of the Search and Rescue team — with the help of a helicopter — began the operation in the morning hours. The plants were still in the early stages of growth, but it’s estimated they would have been worth around $5.7 million when fully grown.
While not able to comment on the details of the case — where and how the grow was discovered — Sugars noted that there was evidence in plain view that the people who’d been tending the field were also living in the area. It’s commonplace for law enforcement personnel, he said, to discover elaborate camping sites in and around illegal grows.
When detectives arrived, however, no one was present and no suspects have been taken into custody at this time. Sugars said that suspects often utilize a number of early warning systems to alert those in the area that officers are on their way, but said he could not elaborate further in this instance as the investigation is still “hot.”