More than 1,500 marijuana plants were seized in a series of raids at illegal cultivation sites, including a major plantation in the Tepusquet area, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
No arrests were made, but investigators have asked the District Attorney’s Office to consider filing charges for cultivation of marijuana and perjury, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
Members of the Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team has been identifying illegal cannabis cultivators in the county in an effort to stop their illicit activities and prevent environmental damage the operations cause, Hoover said.
Part of the investigative efforts culminated Thursday, Sept. 6, when a series of search warrants was served in Nipomo, rural Santa Barbara County and Palos Verdes by members of the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Bureau, Santa Barbara Police Department, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the District Attorney’s Investigator’s Office and the County Planning and Development Department.
During the investigation, a 62-year-old Palos Verdes resident was determined to be involved in an illegal marijuana grow located on several properties in the Tepusquet area, Hoover said.
He was contacted and a search warrant was served in the 500 block of Via Estrada Drive in Palos Verdes, where numerous documents were seized relating to illegal cultivation sites.
Investigators also found evidence of a false document regarding the marijuana grow that had been filed with the county, Hoover said.
Simultaneously, investigators served search warrants at properties located in the 1800 block of Tepusquet Road and a short distance north in the 7900 block of Blazing Saddle Drive, where they found a large marijuana cultivation site and another being prepared for cultivation, she said.
In all, investigators eradicated more than 1,400 marijuana plants and allegedly found environmental violations involving disruption of the streambed and grading.
A follow-up search warrant took investigators to the 800 block of Chata Street, about five blocks south of West Tefft Street in Nipomo, where investigators allegedly found a small amount of heroin and additional marijuana cultivation-related documents.
Hoover said that while investigators were eradicating the marijuana plants on Tepusquet Road, they observed an illegal cannabis cultivation operation on a neighboring property, where an investigation led to the eradication of an additional 174 marijuana plants.
Names of the individuals involved in the alleged illegal cultivation operations were not released because none of them were arrested, Hoover said.
However, based on evidence obtained in the raids, the Sheriff’s Office will ask the District Attorney’s Office to consider filing charges related to illegal marijuana cultivation and perjury, she said.
Representatives of the Sheriff’s and the District Attorney’s offices pointed out the county has passed ordinances that provide a path to legal cannabis cultivation.