LUCERNE VALLEY – Six people face charges this week after being arrested for illegal outdoor cultivation of marijuana in an unincorporated portion of San Bernardino County.
Law enforcement officials have determined that 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water were being used each day for marijuana cultivation during a “severe drought .. that didn’t stop the suspects.” The Sheriff’s Marijuana Enforcement Team served several warrants on Wednesday, July 8, having determined that the plants discovered were not in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
Maria Andrade, 44, and Agripina Caron, 54, both of Bloomington; Carlos Veliz-Fierro, 34, of Victorville; a non-U.S. transient Jose Gonzalez-Ruiz, 40; Michael Beck, 66, of Lucerne Valley and Eric Saul Aguilar, 24, of Sacramento were each arrested in four separate locations during the sweep in Lucerne Valley.
Search warrants were served for illegal marijuana cultivation at resident locations on Waalew Road, Sunswept Drive and neighboring residences at Rabbit Springs Road last week. At one of the Rabbit Springs Road locations, over 1,300 marijuana plants were seized. Officials described the plants as ranging in height from four to six feet and in various stages of growth. Fierro and Ruiz attempted to flee from deputies on foot, but were arrested.
Investigators said Beck, the property owner, had agreed to lease or rent a portion of his property in order to grow marijuana. Charges against Beck will be sent to the District Attorney for review. Fierro and Ruiz had been hired to care and maintain the plants.
Aguilar, who had been arrested in March in neighboring Riverside County on similar charges, was arrested without incident at a location next door to the Rabbit Springs Road house. Deputies discovered him cultivating marijuana at a location where 800 plants, plus a large amount of harvested and processed marijuana, were discovered. Deputies said Aguilar claimed he was growing the marijuana for a marijuana delivery service called Green Thumb Delivery Service.
During the search, over 850 documents containing the personal information for alleged members of this delivery service was exposed and kept in an unsecured area outside in the garden area. Deputies discovered information that included the names, birth dates, physical descriptions and addresses of persons. Noting the growing connection between marijuana cultivation and possible identity theft, county officials are warning property owners about being contacted by people interested in renting or leasing their property for growing marijuana.
Advising them to contact Land Use Services in such cases, property owners may be issued citations and held for violations found on their property, which could include civil and criminal penalties, according to county officials.