Mass Murder, Massive Illegal Marijuana Grow Seized – Signs Point to Organized Crime
Photo: Sheriff Chad Bianco
AGUANGA – When a midnight-hour 911 call of Assault with a Deadly Weapon on 09/07/2020 911 sent Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Deputies to the 45000 block of Highway 371, in unincorporated Aguanga, they encountered a woman suffering from gunshot wounds. Paramedics gave her immediate emergency care and transport to a nearby hospital.
“Deputies found six additional victims suffering from gunshot wounds. All six victims at the location died
as a result of their injuries,” said Sergeant Richard Carroll. “Despite life-saving efforts by medical personnel, the female who was transported also died from her injuries.”
At a recent press conference regarding the Mass Homicide in the mountainous Anza Valley area south of Hemet, Sheriff Chad Bianco revealed that the seven gunshot victims and contact – all of Laotian descent – were at a rural residence that “was evidence of an obvious large-scale illegal marijuana cultivation processing center, with people on site, in excess of twenty people living there. We have reason to believe that it could possibly be a rental.”
Investigators from both Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. Central Homicide Unit and Hemet Station responded and assumed the investigation. Not only is there “Reason to believe there are multiple suspects,” but Sheriff Bianco added, “It’s an ongoing investigation: still processing the scene, processing the site, and we’re seeking potential witnesses.”
Due to multiple residences with multiple dwellings, with many vehicles from different local and out-of-
state locations, Sheriff Bianco emphasized the magnitude of evidence requiring “help from Federal partners – actively working with, and working leads from them. Evidence processing is also from them.
The located evidence: over 1,000 lbs of processed marijuana. Street value: $1-5 million, depending on where it is sold. A couple-hundred live plants, and a Butane Honey Oil (BHO) lab on premises – processing marijuana into honey oil/ High-THC Cannabis Oil. BHO is a highly-potent extract of marijuana.”
Said Sheriff Bianco of the “Extensive, major organized crime-type operation: The areas of operation included the nursery, a location to dry plants, and the processing center.” (Note: BHO is produced by using flammable butane or propane gas as a solvent to extract and distill that plant’s active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The unlicensed manufacture of the drug has been linked to multiple fires and explosions in SoCal.)
“Marijuana is not a victimless crime – these illegal operations are extremely dangerous,” declared Sheriff Bianco. “We’re enforcing with search warrants, and taking the properties if we can. This incident highlights an extremely large property in a rural area. But, we’ve also seen indoor operations in residential areas. This happened to be out in the hills.”
“The area was searched for a suspect; however, the suspect(s) remains outstanding,” said Sgt. Carroll. “Investigators are currently working on leads, and the investigation is ongoing. This appears to have been an isolated incident, and there is no threat to the general public.”