Santa Barbara, state, and federal authorities arrested two men Friday during a raid on an illegal marijuana grow in the Los Padres National Forest, next to Happy Canyon Road. Taken into custody were 27-year-old Joel Santoyo Lopez and 37-year-old Cipriano Arreola Torres. Both are Mexican nationals who entered the country illegally, said Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover, and they’re being held in County Jail on immigration holds.
Two weeks ago, Hoover explained, a hunter contacted law enforcement about a possible marijuana grow ¾ of a mile from the Happy Canyon Shooting Range. After detectives confirmed the tip, the raid was carried out at 6 a.m. this morning. As officials descend on the scene, a suspect was observed fleeing on foot. He got away, but detectives discovered a loaded Ruger rifle the suspect had set down when he saw authorities approaching, said Hoover. A Remington 30-06 semi-automatic rifle was also found nearby.
Lopez and Torres were tracked down soon after. Detectives also seized around 100 pounds of processed and packaged weed — worth around $250,000 — that was ready for pick-up, said Hoover. At one point, the grow had around 1,600 plants, she explained.