Operation Mercury results in biggest marijuana bust in Fresno County history
The Fresno Valley is known for its agriculture, but according to law enforcement officials, there is a huge issue with marijuana being grown in the area. Investigations from Operation Mercury, a six county effort to eradicate the illegal grows of the green stuff, put another feather in its cap when Wednesday, they made a huge bust of an illegal grow on property tied to Mexican Cartels.
According to the sheriff’s report, Sheriff Margaret Mims said her deputies made one of the biggest busts of illegal marijuana raids is Fresno County history. A 140-acre farm at Jensen and Sunnyside, just outside the Southeast Fresno city limits, was the site of the raid. Deputies, with assistance from federal agents, discovered thousands of marijuana plants, many of them 10 feet tall.
Sheriff’s deputies led the raid Wednesday morning around 11 a.m. Sheriff Mims said that it was too early to estimate the number of plants at this time, but noted that deputies began pulling the plants out during the raid, also saying there were no medical marijuana cards posted in the fields — a typical move by growers to try and shield their farms from raids.
Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said around 50 acres were devoted to growing marijuana, but the plants were hidden among rows of peppers, tomatoes, bitter melons and corn.
While Mims said that fifty people were detained, it was too early in the investigation to determine how many would be arrested. Deputies confiscated several weapons and several pounds of high-graded marijuana that was ready to be sold, the sheriff said.
The raid coincided with a news conference where federal officials and sheriffs from Kern County to Merced County said Operation Mercury, which began in March, has resulted in the seizure of more than 400,000 marijuana plants, primarily on Valley farmland. More than 175 people have been arrested and more than 100 firearms have been confiscated, they said.
According to Wagner, a vast majority of the illegal grows are connected to the Mexican cartels where the illegal crop is then sold across the country for top dollar. Citing an example, Wagner said that a pound of high-grade marijuana that is grown here is sold for $2,500 locally, but commands more than $4,000 on the East Coast.
“These are not medical marijuana gardens to help sick people,” Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said. “These are illegal marijuana grows that are there to make money.”
Image courtesy Google Maps
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