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County compliance team seizes 20 tons of illegal cannabis, eradicates 350,000 plants near Buellton

County compliance team seizes 20 tons of illegal cannabis, eradicates 350,000 plants near Buellton

From the Complete Series - Green Rush in the 805?: Cannabis on the Central Coast - Looking at land use, money, science, law enforcement and education series
061719 Buellton cannabis bust-plants growing

Some of the 350,000 cannabis plants allegedly cultivated illegally in hoop houses outside Buellton were destroyed by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team in a two-day raid that started June 17.

Twenty tons of harvested cannabis were seized and 350,000 plants were destroyed in a raid on an allegedly illegal cannabis cultivation site outside Buellton, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team executed four search warrants related to the alleged illegal cultivation on June 17, culminating an approximate two-month investigation into fraudulently obtained state temporary and provisional cannabis licenses and the suspected sales of undocumented cannabis.

Search warrants were served in Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo County and the 1800 block of West Highway 246, just outside Buellton city limits, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.

The cultivation area was located on approximately 187 acres of agricultural land, with just over 60 acres being used for the commercial cultivation of cannabis, the spokesman said.

061719 Buellton cannabis bust-harvested pot

Harvested cannabis allegedly grown illegally near Buellton lies outside shipping containers after it was seized by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team members with assistance from other agencies. It’s unclear if this batch was found at the Buellton site or locations where search warrants were served in Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo County, but in total, 20 tons of processed cannabis were seized.

Based on the initial investigation, it appeared the site was allegedly used to continually cultivate cannabis throughout the year and, at the time of the search, plants were growing on approximately 40 acres.

In addition, a large amount of cannabis had been recently harvested, the spokesman said.

It took a total of four days for the team to seize approximately 20 tons of processed cannabis and eradicate approximately 350,000 cannabis plants, several of which were nearly ready to harvest.

The investigation was the result of complaints from the public, tips and information provided to the Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team, and as of June 22, the property owner had not been located.

However, the case will be forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for a review of potential criminal charges.

Because the case is still being actively investigated, no further information was released, the spokesman said.

The operation involved 35 detectives, investigators and officers from various agencies.

In addition to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team, agencies involved included the Sheriff's Special Investigations Bureau, Sheriff's Criminal Investigations Bureau, Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Army National Guard Counter Drug Task Force.

061719 Buellton cannabis bust-seedlings

Cannabis seedlings grow inside a hoop structure, ventilated by a large fan, at an allegedly illegal cultivation operation outside Buellton that was raided June 17 by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team.

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