Discovery of man’s body leads to investigation of multiple illegal marijuana grow sites; five arrested
The discovery by Butte County deputies of a man’s body hidden in the back of an SUV later led to five arrests, including three of the victim’s family members, and an investigation into multiple illegal marijuana grow sites, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
On September 11, deputies found the body of 33-year-old Melvin Garcia-Vargas of Sacramento hidden in the back of an abandoned SUV that was missing its plates. Authorities towed the vehicle from where it was found — along Forbestown Road in rural Oroville — to a secure location for processing, where they discovered Garcia-Vargas appeared to have died as a result of a gunshot wound to his lower torso.
After speaking with the victim’s father, 66-year-old Carlos Garcia-Hernandez, and obtaining a search warrant for his Sacramento home, investigators learned that Garcia-Vargas had died at an illegal marijuana grow site being run by his father in the Squaw Flat Road area of Forbestown.
On the evening of September 12, multiple state and federal agencies converged on the Squaw Flat Road property to serve a search warrant for the grow operation. At the scene, investigators located the area where they believe Melvin was shot, along with a firearm and over 600 marijuana plants.
The next day, September 13, investigators served search warrants at seven parcels of land on Knob Hill Avenue, where Carlos Garcia-Hernandez was believed to be operating other grow sites. Five firearms and over 1400 marijuana plants were recovered in total, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Though the investigation is ongoing, investigators believe at this point that Melvin died after accidentally shooting himself while working the Forbestown Road grow site. Melvin’s father and his two brothers, along with a fourth individual identified as Juan Cruzcupido (33), are believed to have then moved and hidden the body to prevent the grow sites from being discovered.
So far, Carlos Garcia-Hernandez, as well as Juan and Ronald Garcia-Vargas and Juan Cruzpucido, have all been arrested on various charges connected to the illegal grow sites as well as the unlawful handling of Melvin’s body.
A fifth individual, identified as 50-year-old Edgar Najera of Sacramento, was also arrested in connection to the grow sites. So far, he appears to have not been involved in the moving of the body.