07/25/2013 10:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Santa Barbara County Pot Plants Worth $85 Million Destroyed On Federal Land


Authorities said they have eradicated more than 27,000 marijuana plants in the past week with a potential street value of about $85 million on U.S. Forest Service land in Santa Barbara County.

Two people were arrested, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office reported.

The operation involved 10 illegal marijuana-growing operations in the Cuyama Valley and near Figueroa Mountain that were discovered through public tips and aerial observation, authorities said.

On July 18, authorities conducted an eradication operation involving three sites on U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to Old Sierra Madre Road in the Cuyama Valley, officials said. More than 2,500 marijuana plants were eradicated.

The next day, more than 5,700 marijuana plants were eradicated from a site off Highway 33 in the Cuyama/Ventucopa area. Authorities said Jose Humberto Rivera, 46, of Ventucopa, was arrested and charged with marijuana cultivation.

On Monday and Tuesday, six illegal marijuana cultivation sites with more than 19,000 plants were eradicated from the mountains above the Davy Brown Campground/Sunset Valley Road area near Figueroa Mountain, authorities said. Jose Garcia-Armas, 34, of Los Angeles, was arrested and charged with marijuana cultivation, authorities said.

In addition to marijuana, a large amount of trash, including toxic chemicals, was carried out of the national forest lands by helicopter, authorities said.

The operations were part of the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting coordinated by the California Department of Justice, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office and other agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, the California National Guard, Santa Barbara Regional Narcotics Enforcement Team and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.



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