Authorities bust 17-acre marijuana farm

Just feet away from Highway 99, more than 20 Narcotic agents worked 18 hours in eradicating marijuana plants found growing in a 17-acre garden.

The exact location of the garden is not being released due to an ongoing investigation, as well as the days of clean-up that still follow.

The operation started Wednesday – seizing 7,382 fully budded marijuana plants along with 467.4 grams of processed marijuana.

The owner of the property reportedly leased the prime agricultural land to as many as six South East Asians– all unemployed and none of whom reside in Madera County. Records show they hail from Fresno and Sacramento counties.

Agents said it appears this group managed to maintain this grow for several months, not only paying rent but buying water to cultivate their 17-acre grow site.

The garden was surrounded by a wall of corn stalks. Inside was an operation that looked like a sophisticated labyrinth of well nourished marijuana plants camouflaged by over grown weeds, wild grass, and a variety of shrubs and trees – none of which has any legitimate agricultural crop value.

To complete this arduous task, agents had to maneuver through this jungle-like environment reinforced with tripwire.

A make-shift kitchen inside a hut was housed near the front of the garden. Other huts (all made of plywood) were strategically positioned throughout the grow site – each one armed with motion detector systems so the growers would know if and when someone entered their farm.

With no plumbing on the property, agents also had to side step open sewage on the 17-acre plot.

Sheriff Anderson, who took part in the operation said, agents continue to tackle the growing number of illegal marijuana gardens operating throughout Madera County under the protection of Prop 215.

The passing of Prop 215 was done with the best of intentions he says, to help those in real medical need.

“The Compassionate Use Act was not,” he said, “intended for a growing segment of society that is basically using Prop 215 for financial gain.”

MADNET’s (Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team) marijuana eradication season continues for at least another month, and so far agents have destroyed nearly 150,000 plants.

The operation, run by MADNET (Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team) agents, was assisted by Madera Sheriff’s Deputies, Madera Regional SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team), CA DFW (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) Officers, US DOJ/DEA (United States Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Agency) agents and MMNTF (Merced Mariposa Narcotic Task Force).