For the second time in less than a week the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department has confiscated a large amount of marijuana – specifically about 100 pounds of the plant. This time, the bust happened with the help of a local Santa Ynez Valley rancher, and this time about 100 pounds of the plant. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Erik Raney said the catch, which will be buried, is worth approximately $400,000.
According to Raney, a Santa Ynez Valley rancher was searching for coyotes on his property along Happy Canyon Road when he came across eight Hispanic males ages 18 to 35 dressed in camouflage, carrying duffle bags and trespassing on his property. They were walking out of the brush toward a road, and the rancher, armed with a rifle, assumed they were poachers. He ordered them to stop and searched through one of the bags, finding it was full of marijuana. When he tried to detain the individuals, they all fled in different directions, some leaving their duffle bags behind.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived but despite using four-wheel drive vehicles and a K-9 unit failed to find the men. Their search did turn up three bags of marijuana, however. Authorities haven’t been able to determine where the marijuana came from.
The catch comes after four days after one of the largest drug seizures in county history, in which the Sheriff’s Department eradicated 61,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $195 million from nine grows east of the Twitchell Reservoir. Three men suspected of harvesting the grows were arrested on unrelated charges.
The marijuana captured on Tuesday was different than that captured last week because it wasn’t plants captured, but the buds of the plant – the “good stuff,” as Raney called it. While the entire plant contains THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, most of it is concentrated in the bud of the plant.
Raney estimated that the amount of marijuana seized in the last week equals less than 10 percent of all the grows in the county, and that authorities only seize about 10 percent of the total grows out there, due to the amount of rural land in the county.
Raney also cautioned ranchers, residents and visitors to the back country to proceed with caution if they come across marijuana gardens. Growers of such gardens are considered “dangerous people” and are “very interested in protecting their crop,” Raney said. He advises leaving the area immediately before calling authorities.