Recently-picked marijuana seized at the Happy Canyon grow site


Recently-picked marijuana seized at the Happy Canyon grow site

Two Men To Be Sentenced For Marijuana Grow

Joel Lopez and Cipriano Torres Talk to Authorities About Their Business Arrangements

Thursday, October 24, 2013
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Two men arrested last month during the early morning raid of an illegal pot grow in the Los Padres National Forest near Happy Canyon Road will be sentenced to 120 days in County Jail and five years of probation. Joel Lopez, 27, and Cipriano Torres, 37, each pleaded no contest to one felony charge of marijuana cultivation and admitted they were armed with guns, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley. They are scheduled to appear in court November 6 in Santa Maria for their sentencing.

Joel Lopez
Click to enlarge photo


Joel Lopez

Cipriano Torres
Click to enlarge photo


Cipriano Torres

Tipped off by an area hunter, detectives from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit along with personnel with the California National Guard and United States Forest Service descended on the grow about ¾ of a mile south of the Happy Canyon Shooting Range at 6 a.m. on September 20. They spotted one suspect who was able to run away, but soon tracked down and arrested Lopez and Torres. A loaded Ruger rifle and Remington 30-06 semi-automatic rifle were found nearby. The 1,600-plant grow had recently been harvested.

While the Sheriff’s Office said in public statements that it seized around 100 pounds of processed marijuana worth approximately $250,000 on the streets, the official incident report states only 66 pounds were seized.

According to Foley, Lopez said he had been living and working at the grow for approximately six months, and that he was going to be paid five percent of the grow’s total yield. He was hired shortly after arriving illegally in the United Sates from Mexico, Foley said.

Torres also illegally immigrated from Mexico and had been living and working at the site for five months. He was told he would make between $15,000 and $20,000, depending on the yield, Foley explained. Torres told authorities the harvested marijuana was going to be taken down to the Los Angeles area.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Wow...120 days which translates into 60 days and probation?? I am assuming that these Mexican nationals working for the cartels and here illegally are being deported back from where they came?? (of course only to sneak right back over the border to further their profession) Just great...

BacktoSanity (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 5:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why should they go to jail at all? Did they hurt anybody?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 6:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loonpt, you are joking right? Armed foreign citizens working for a cartel in the national forest not a problem...the sentence is a joke.

pointssouth (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 7:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

loonpt: Looks like they were READY and WILLING to hurt somebody, judging by the loaded guns... Are you saying they shouldn't be punished until they actually DO shoot somebody to death?

Brier (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 8:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Because believe me when i say that those guns weren't loaded for protection -- they were loaded to use against anyone who innocently stumbled upon their grow. Right?

Brier (anonymous profile)
October 24, 2013 at 8:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe they would have got a year in jail for shooting and killing someone the justice system is a joke.

Byrd (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 8:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Personally, I am more concerned with the guns than I am with the growing operation.

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 8:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Not to mention the taxes these guys are skipping out on. They're probably in the 1%.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 9:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Personally I don't give a sh*t about pot one way or the other. But I do care about the destruction of our wild places that happen at these grow sites. And the fact that there are criminals with loaded guns living out there and guarding their plots. They have a lot to lose if they are caught.

Ryansbca (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 11:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

yeah, loon's loony on this point: dude, they were ARMED and the rifles were loaded... I have hiked with students not so far from here: wake up!
Agree with ryansbca, the deeper issues are destruction of our wild places AND two armed men guarding the spot, which is quite close to the public shooting area there by De La Guerra Spring.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 11:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh, so they did shoot somebody?

Or you are assuming that by carrying weapons and having brown skin they would automatically shoot somebody if they saw somebody, including children now??

Has anybody ever been shot from these grows in the hills before?

I have a really hard time believing that your typical cannabis grow does any real damage to the surrounding environment. If it does so much damage why not go after farmers for growing fruits and vegetables?

These people planted some plants out in the forest and had weapons to protect themselves and their product. I doubt they would have shot somebody who came upon their grow unless they were carrying trash bags and were ready to steal it from them.

If you want to stop that from happening, legalize cannabis so it can be grown on private property, don't put people in a cage who never committed any violent acts, pinning them with some sort of pre-crime.

We got a looney bin here alright, but I seem to be the only sane one here.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 11:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Drug dealers shooting innocent bystanders or police? I never heard of that happening before. If drug dealers are worried about their safety, maybe the police should grant them concealed weapons permits? Or allow them to carry automatic weapons?

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 12:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

34lbs missing... Reminds me of friends who worked on boats rented by law enforcement to go fishing and party. They'd bring stuff that was seized and party with it, weed, coc... out in international waters of course. Drug war is a sham and creates situations like this and that, creates business for those making a profit on the prison system, scum of the earth walking around like respected citizens wearing ties and driving mercedes. Recognize.

spacey (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 12:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany, I'm referring specifically to up in the hills here. There have been hundreds of grows no doubt in the last decade or so with a dozen or so being caught in the act, no doubt many of them are armed to protect themselves and their product. So? How many innocent people have they killed who happened to walk across their garden?

Of course it COULD happen, but in this country we don't punish people for pre-crimes, I thought the philosophy of convicting people for pre-crimes had already been hashed out in the Hollywood film Minority Report, but then we have posters here who still support it? Amazing.

Once again, if you want to prevent these situations, then make sure that cannabis is legalized so people can grow it on their private property. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over thinking you will get different results. When you arrest drug manufacturers, the supply goes down, the price goes up and with the significant profit margin already in place this brings more drug manufacturers with the ability to make even more substantial profits. You don't seem to understand that the harder you fight in the war on drugs, the more you fail. Until you understand that, you are ALWAYS going to be worrying about Mexican cartels growing weed in the woods. ALWAYS. Your "solution" of arresting these two and putting them in prison or deporting them is a NON-SOLUTION. It actually makes the situation worse because you are taking product off the market and driving up the price, bringing in more people to manufacture more product. Basic economics. Get it??

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 12:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loon, do you think they grow all that pot for their personal use? When they come down to the cities to sell their drugs do you honestly think they leave their guns at home?

What I have heard of are booby traps, fish hooks dangling at eye level and the like. So much for consideraton for the poor slob that happens upon their marijuana grove.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You didn't read any of my post, did you?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 1:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

deported then after debt to society paid?

Hemlockroid (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 2:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany's correct: the grows harm the national forest in many ways, how could loon not know this?? He doesn't care: stop listening to this troll.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 25, 2013 at 4:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan; What damage to the national forest have you seen or have evidence of? What specifically do you think loonpt knows and doesn't care about?
I really don't believe that the reported change in weight of these plants by law enforcement, 34 pounds, a decrease of around 1/3 of their original weight, is explained by water loss, but if they had been totally dry when these guys were busted, they wouldn't have been on a drying rack.

FYI: "In my 30-year history with the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA."
Dennis Dayle, former chief of CENTAC (central tactical program for the DEA, targeting major drug organizations).

U.S. Government Accountability Office lololololololol

14noscams (anonymous profile)
October 26, 2013 at 10:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan, I specifically addressed your point regarding damages in a previous post as well as any points in support of arresting these people.

If you think that some how arresting people who grow in the forest will decrease growing in the forest you are wrong - it will only increase growing in the forest. There is an unlimited supply of people willing to grow in the forest and the more of them you arrest, the greater the demand for their product, the price rises and in the end you have more people growing in the forest. Is it better to have 40 grows in the forest with 1 arrest, or 70 grows in the forest with 20 arrests? Do the math.

Until those points are addressed the ball is still in your court.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 10:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

first, 14, I have personally seen evidence just once (near Davy Brown) and someone with me did report it to the USFS. Of course I wouldn't have lots of eyewitness proof, even though I'm out there quite often.
Sure, I rely on news photos, and the amount of trash, the propane canisters, etc. shown convinces me they are making a mess and polluting our precious resource, the forests ( I know, you are certain all the news sources are biased, you've already stated this many times).
I think arresting these people, punishing them, will indeed help. More, when we have news articles about this it may deter others from trying it.
loon, when you write, "arresting people who grow in the forest will decrease growing in the forest you are wrong - it will only increase growing in the forest. " it makes little sense to me.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Two handsome lads whose new prison careers will be as unremarkable as they are. Have fun, chicos!

Draxor (anonymous profile)
October 28, 2013 at 1:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Back in the early 80's as a young SB Sheriff's Explorer (Post 350), the SBSO use to find Pot Growers all over the Los Padres National Forest. These grower's use to hang fishing hooks at eye level to catch HIKERS if they were "Snooping" around their cash crops. The Growers were on orders from the Mexican Mafia and the "CRIPS" to shoot first and dispose of the bodies off the San Marcos Rd. down in the bushes. Several SBSO SWAT team member's had encountered armed growers with up to eight magazine's of extra rounds for extended contact with anyone who happened to stumble on to their grow site. I use to hike with a Boonie hat (wide brim) and a Survival knife on the Front Country because the Growers grew their Pot right off the Hiking Trails. I only encountered a small field once and reported it to the SBSO after I watched the spot from a distance all day, three growers, two were armed with rifles, all with pistols military styled rigs to carry the ammo and other gear on. The SBSO captured the Pot and Growers in one fell swoop but didn't encounter the fish-hooks that I did in my Boonie hat brim. The growers have been coming up from South of the Border for over a hundred years, the Mexican Mafia employs them because they are illegals and there is little connection to themselves and the MM. This ain't nothing new nor will ever stop anytime soon.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 7:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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