40 Arrested In Weekend Marijuana Operation 

40 Arrested In Weekend Marijuana Operation 
Posted by FoM on October 24, 2000 at 18:29:38 PT
By Charles McCarthy 
Source: Fresno Bee
A statewide anti-drug effort, which has seized an estimated $1.3 billion in marijuana this year, was credited Monday with 40 Central Valley weekend arrests and the breakup of a large suspected distribution organization. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and other officials said the arrests, many in Madera and Fresno counties, also netted methamphetamine allegedly used to finance "elaborate criminal" marijuana growing and distribution enterprises. 
"We have to get further up the chain of distribution," Lockyer said at a news conference in the Madera County Government Center. "The cultivators aren't the main ones we want." Lockyer announced that this year's federal, state and local Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP, resulted in the seizure of 43% more marijuana plants statewide than during the previous record summer of 1999. During this year's CAMP raids on marijuana growing sites, 16 suspected cultivators were arrested. Valley law enforcement officials talked about a larger distribution operation, but until this weekend no arrests of suspected distributors were announced. More than 174,000 of the 345,207 marijuana plants reported seized statewide were found growing in plantations from San Joaquin to Kern counties, Lockyer's statistics showed. Kern County led the list with 59,015 plants. Madera County, with 28,934 plants, placed third behind Mendocino County. Fresno County was fourth with 26,276 plants reported. Many of these were reportedly ripped out of large plantations in the foothills and mountains of eastern Madera County and just across the San Joaquin River in Fresno County. Plants were confiscated this year on public and private land. In Madera County, Sheriff John Anderson went along on many of the raids after plantations were located from the air using helicopters. One suspected plantation tender in the Ahwahnee area was fatally shot after, officers said, he pointed a gun at them. Anderson said he believed that the man, a resident of Mexico, as well as other men found armed on marijuana raids, had been hired by a large cartel. One man arrested at a Madera County plantation didn't even know what county he was in, Anderson said. Since Friday, in raids directed at suspected marijuana dealers, officials have seized 33 firearms -- including assault weapons -- $160,000 in cash, two vehicles, more than 330 pounds of marijuana and 28 pounds of methamphetamine. Following up on a summer-long marijuana-eradication campaign, officials also reported finding one methamphetamine laboratory. Madera County District Attorney Ernest LiCalsi and Anderson agreed before Monday's news conference that the methamphetamine seizures were a byproduct of what they called a large commercial marijuana distribution operation. "That's how they financed a lot of it," LiCalsi said about the meth. Anderson suspected last summer that most of the marijuana gardens planted, irrigated and cultivated elaborately in the Madera County mountains weren't random operations. But until this weekend, arrests were confined to suspected cultivators found at the remote plantation sites. "We didn't want to scare them suspected distributors away," Anderson said Monday. The reporter can be reached at: cmccarthy fresnobee.comor 441-6330. Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)Author: Charles McCarthyPublished: October 24, 2000Copyright: 2000 The Fresno BeeContact: letters fresnobee.comWebsite: Articles:State Harvests Record in Marijuana Seizures Pot Farm in Hills Discovered Drug Bust Near San Mateo County Reservoir Cultivates Millions in Pot Haul Warrior 
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