Northern California

Northern California: Illegal pot grows center around Chinese-born suspects

Close to 8,000 marijuana plants, six firearms, and thousands in U.S. currency have been seized and at least 14 arrests have been made since March in three illegal marijuana cultivation busts by the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office.

Though the three busts have been at different locations throughout Yuba County, or just outside it in Butte and Sacramento counties, there has been a pattern with the individuals arrested — they were all born in China.

Leslie Carbah, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said some of the individuals are citizens and some are in the country with Chinese passports.

“Homeland Security is currently working with us on these investigations, and it may potentially be handled federally,” Carbah said. “Our cases are still under review and continue to be actively investigated.”

Carbah said the sheriff’s office believes the grow operations in Yuba County had only been going on since late 2016, based on the information detectives currently have.

“Aside from our cases tied to Butte and Sacramento counties, we aren’t specifically aware of any current investigations tied to Chinese-born individuals, but that’s not to say that other such cases don’t exist,” Carbah said. “We don’t believe it’s unique to our area.”

Details on the possibility of it being a criminal organization, where the marijuana was being sold and who was profiting from the sales are also unclear due to it being an active investigation, Carbah said.

However, criminal organizations running drug operations have been discovered in Yuba County in the past.

“We have had other cases in the past involving various groups operating large-scale grows that were suspected to be tied to criminal organizations such as cartels,” Carbah said.

Five individuals arrested in the most recent busts in May are in the Yuba County Superior Court system, but the other nine are not included. In early May, Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath said the nine people arrested during the Edgewater bust are being considered for federal prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento.

Yuba County Supervisor Randy Fletcher said the county is going to do all it can to enforce the law and will arrest anyone found to be growing marijuana for profit.

“What I’ve heard, the general perception of growing in the foothills now is ‘It’s OK, it’s legal now, you can do whatever you want,’ but that’s not true. We still have an ordinance, and by all means growing commercially is not allowed, outdoors or indoors,” Fletcher said.

© 2017 Marysville Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.) Visit The Appeal-Democrat at www.appeal-democrat.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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