Santa Barbara Sheriff’s deputies and detectives, accompanied by California National Guard personnel, ripped up around 5,000 marijuana plants during eradication efforts last week. The weed — worth approximately $16 million on the street — was found on U.S. Forest Service Land in the Gaviota and Cuyama Valley areas.
According to Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover, hunters were the first to discover a illegal grow in the Sulfur Springs Canyon area of Cuyama Valley and reported it to authorities. On August 1, two county helicopters helped in removing around 3,000 plants, 3,000 pounds of trash, and several weapons discovered at the scene. No suspects were found. On August 8, a helicopter crew observed an illegal marijuana grow above the Gaviota Tunnel, soon removing around 2,500 plants from the site. Again, no one was taken into custody.
“Both operations are under investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit,” Hoover said in a statement. “The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind residents that if they come across an illegal growing operation or see suspicious activity that they should leave the area immediately and call authorities. The suspects involved in marijuana growing operations are often times armed and potentially dangerous.”
Late last month, Santa Barbara and federal officials eradicated over 28,000 marijuana plants in the Cuyama Valley worth an estimated $85 million.