Ventura County

Undercover agents remove 10,000 illegal pot plants

Gardens between Rose Valley and Lockwood Valley, north of Ojai

Undercover agents remove illegal pot plants

LOCKWOOD VALLEY, Calif. - For the second week in a row, Ventura County sheriff's deputies have found a new crop of illegal pot gardens in the Los Padres National Forest, north of Ojai. Just last week crews eradicated thousands of marijuana plants near Pine Mountain and made three arrests.  Those arrested include Jorge Pucnetapi, 28, from Lamont, Alfredo Sanchez , 36, from Taft and Jose Figueroa, 23, from Bakersfield.

Deputies believe each full-grown plant is worth an estimated $3,000.

While the Sheriff's Aviation Air Unit helicopter flew over the area, narcotics detectives spotted at least three more gardens they referred to as "grows." Monday, undercover crews cut down plants at three locations between Rose Valley and Lockwood Valley.  They cut down 10,000 plants with an estimated street value of $30,000,000.

Crews from the Sheriff's Narcotics Unit, Sheriff's Mountain Marijuana Eradication Team, Sheriff's Aviation Unit, and the California Department of Justice - Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), and the United States Forest Service are working together to prevent more illegal gardens from damaging the forests.

Undercover crew members said the pesticides, irrigation tools and fertilizer harm wildlife and the environment.

The growers also pose a danger to hikers and tourists along Highway 33 between Ojai and Bakersfield.

If people see suspicious activity, they should leave the area and notify law enforcement.

Capt. Don Aguilar said the illegal pot growing season is far from over, so he expects they will be eradicating marijuana until the fall.

Aguilar said the pot airlifted out will be buried or burned.

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