Authorities eradicated nearly 8,000 cannabis plants and destroyed more than 300 pounds of illegal processed marijuana flowers at an illegal cannabis cultivation site east of Santa Maria last month.
The operation involved serving a search warrant related to alleged environmental crimes and involved the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
The parcel, in the 1400 block of Tepusquet Road, sits in an environmentally sensitive area that is home to native plants, fish and wildlife species.
Santa Barbara County does not allow commercial cannabis cultivation in the area.
“This egregious activity will not be tolerated at the expense of the environment and those in the regulated cannabis market,” said David Bess, CDFW deputy director and chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Illegal operations of this nature fuel other associated criminal behavior and put public safety at risk. I applaud this allied agency effort with our enforcement partners in Santa Barbara County.”
State environmental scientists documented several environmental violations, which included substantially altering a streambed, placing materials harmful to fish and wildlife where it may pass into the stream, and stockpiling rubbish in and around a nearby tributary.
“We appreciate the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s partnership in the eradication of this illegal grow,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. “In addition to the unfair competition that these illicit growing and distribution operations have on legitimate, legal cannabis operations, this case also shows how detrimental they are to our sensitive environment.”
A formal complaint will be filed with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, according to state wildlife officials.
Along with CDFW wildlife officers and environmental scientists, support for the investigation also came from the State Water Resources Control Board, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Santa Barbara County Code Enforcement.
The public can report environmental crimes to the CalTIP hotline at 888-334-2258 or by texting CALTIP, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).
Published: May 25, 2021
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