NEWBERRY SPRINGS – San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies seized over 7,300 marijuana plants and arrested eight suspects after a three-hour standoff in an unincorporated portion of the county this week.
Deputies served warrants at six separate addresses on Tuesday and Wednesday, resulting in the discovery of large-scale outdoor marijuana cultivations that were taking place at each location.
Investigators, according to a release, “revealed all of the marijuana cultivation operations were illegal and not in compliance with California medical marijuana laws.”
Most of the suspects contacted, according to information released by law enforcement, were interviewed and released at the scene. A standoff ensued at 41227 Silver Valley Road, however, in which eight were taken into custody after nearly three hours. “The suspects barricaded themselves inside the residence,” according to the release, “and refused to come out.”
Despite numerous requests by investigators to surrender, SWAT team members were summoned to assist “with the safe removal and arrest of the suspects from the residence.” Aside from the initial three hour long standoff, they were all taken into custody without further incident. Investigators discovered 3,110 marijuana plants and 50 pounds of marijuana, seizing them in the process.
Arrested were Harold Bahn, 28, of Newberry Springs, Souk Polsena, 29, of Fresno and Las Vegas residents Hunter Hayden, 21, Malayphone Koulavongsa, 34, Bounleuth Sinsarady, 40, Asdawut Yatprachum, 27, Pang Koulavongsa, 35, and Keo Souvannasane, 40.
Each man was charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession for sales of marijuana, transportation and furnishing of marijuana, and conspiracy to commit a crime. No charges were mentioned regarding the standoff.
A sheriff’s spokesman said the large amount of marijuana seized suggests “the suspects had no intention of abiding by California’s medical marijuana laws or the county ordinance. Many of the suspects were utilizing fictitious medical marijuana recommendations in an effort to deceive law enforcement personnel into thinking the operations were legitimate.”
The county does have an ordinance prohibiting outdoor marijuana cultivations. County code enforcement, the sheriff’s Narcotics Division and sheriff’s deputies played a part in the sweep. Charges for the remaining 16 people are under review. The suspects range in ages from 21 to 61. All are subject to fines, prosecution and the seizure of property.