These criminals install large campsites in inappropriate areas, leading to an accumulation of large quantities of garbage within our otherwise pristine forest lands.  Open flames are used for cooking in almost all unlawful cultivation sites, which are usually found situated in high-fire danger areas.

In most of the cultivation sites investigated by our detectives in 2013, we found large propane tanks (BBQ size) and full size car batteries.  The 2009 La Brea Fire, which burned more than 90,000 acres in northern Santa Barbara County, was the result of cooking fire at a camp within an unlawful marijuana cultivation site installed on our public lands. 

Once the criminals are finished using and abusing our public lands for their criminal enterprise, they do not clean up their mess!  The garbage, poisons and plastic irrigation line are left behind unless Law Enforcement intercedes. 

The Sheriff’s Office and our partner agencies make a concerted effort to remove the garbage and poisons from our public lands during our cultivation site eradication operations and coordinate with the USFS and landowners to further remediate the damage to our environment.

During our 2013 enforcement operations, Sheriff’s Office detectives assisted three private landowners whose lands were trespassed on by marijuana growers.  In two of the instances, the rerouting of water by the criminals cultivating the marijuana sites caused a significant financial impact to the landowner, drying up water sources intended for livestock.  Our investigators will work with landowners to address any such misuse of their lands by criminals.

The Sheriff’s Office encourages community members and other visitors to our public lands who observe suspicious individuals or activity to report this activity to the Sheriff’s Office.  Activities within or around our public lands that should raise suspicion include:

  • Persons carrying irrigation tubing and other gardening supplies into public lands,
  • Persons packing in large amounts of food or other living supplies, oftentimes using bags and containers that are not generally associated with backpacking and hiking.
  • Persons carrying large propane tanks or full-size car batteries into public lands.
  • Creation of new trails leading into drainages or increased use of areas where there would appear to be no attraction.
  • Unusual or abrupt loss of water in creeks.
  • An odor of marijuana emanating from public land areas

Anyone with information can provide it anonymously by calling (805) 681-4175, by fax at (805) 681-4316 or by email at  Please provide as much detail pertaining to dates, times, locations (GPS if possible) and subject / vehicle descriptions.

The Sheriff’s Office wants to emphasize that community members should not take direct action to address individuals engaging in unlawful marijuana cultivation, as it is not uncommon for the criminals who perpetrate these crimes to threaten or resort to violence in order to protect their criminal enterprise."