Marijuana garden discovered 75 yards from Coarsegold Elementary School

More than 400 marijuana plants, ready for harvest, within 75 yards of Coarsegold Elementary School, were eradicated early this morning (Sept. 12).

According to Madera County Sheriff John Anderson, a 12-man team was assigned to this incident last night — most of them from Madera Regional SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team.

The eradication mission was set in motion at about 7 p.m. Sept. 11, when law enforcement officials received word that a marijuana plant had been found on school grounds.

The Madera County Narcotic Enforcement Team (MADNET) quickly secured a search warrant on the nearby property, and held a briefing with both Sheriff Anderson and Coarsegold Elementary School Principal Bob Rose. Principal Rose was prepared to put his school on lockdown if the mission could not be accomplished before students were scheduled to arrive on campus.

According to a sheriff’s office prepared statement, the safety and welfare of the children, faculty, and staff was vital. So agents were not afforded time to gather any information about who lived on the property, how many people occupied the property, if there were children, if they had dogs, and if any of them might be armed.

When agents, and SWAT arrived at dawn adjacent to the school, they saw two men flee the marijuana grow and head into dense brush. Suddenly a pit bull appeared, charging at the deputies. For their safety, officers had no choice but to shoot the dog. The foot chase for the pair ended when they were apprehended on school grounds. Deputies removed both men from the campus and took them back to the location that had been secured by additional officers on scene.

“No one was injured, and because of their swift timing, agents were able to complete this delicate mission before the first bus arrived at the school,” Anderson said. “Therefore no lockdown was needed.”

Two children found living in squalor inside a house on the property were placed in the care of Child Protective Services for their safety and welfare.

As many as five adults occupied the residence and were reportedly sharing rooms in the home, as well occupying make-shift camps scattered throughout the five-acre property.

Four separate gardens were located — all of them within 75 yards of the school.

In light of the close proximity of today’s marijuana eradication mission, Rose stated, that a student counselor is available to students in the event that they may have any questions, and to assure them that they are safe at school.