On Aug. 15 and 16, the Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team (MONET), with the assistance of several other agencies, eradicated approximately 30,000 marijuana plants from a large grow site.
The site was approximately 1.5 miles in length, and the potential street value of the pot was estimated at $108 million.
During the two-day eradication, two suspects, Edilio Navarro, 34, of Lake Elsinore, Calif. and Nemessis Venegas, 22, of Perris, Calif., were taken into custody. There are still several outstanding suspects that are believed to be armed. The suspects arrested have been booked in the Mono County Jail with bail set at $5 million. They could be ultimately charged in Federal Court.
Five handguns and one rifle were also seized.
With these types of illegal marijuana grow sites, public lands are routinely desecrated with garbage, piping material, etc. The U.S. Forest Service will return to the affected area and complete an extensive cleanup and restoration operation due to the destruction of public lands by these cultivators. The cleanup and restoration is not only time consuming, but also labor intensive and is done at a high cost to the taxpayers.
MONET agents would like to warn outdoor enthusiasts of the dangers of locating one of these grow sites. If you see anything that looks out of place such as cleared areas of forest that should not be cleared, fertilizer bags, black plastic pipes, large camps that seem out of place, or actively growing marijuana plants, please immediately leave the area and note the location, if possible, and notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. These large-scale marijuana cultivators are routinely armed and are known to protect the gardens in any way they can. –LAK/MCSD