30,000 marijuana plants eradicated, two arrested


From: Ralph Obenberger, Undersheriff

Date: August 16, 2012

RE: Marijuana Eradication in the Inyo National Forest

As part of the campaign of the Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team (MONET) to combat the cultivation of marijuana within Mono County, MONET agents, with the assistance of the Inyo Narcotics Enforcement Team, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Mono County Paramedics, Mono County Public Works, California Highway Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Justice (CAMP), and the U.S. Customs Service, eradicated a large marijuana operation located on Forest Service lands in the Inyo National Forest. The Undersheriff said the exact location of the operation will not be released.

The eradication took place on Wednesday August 15th and Thursday August 16th 2012.  Over two days, with the assistance of two helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft, law enforcement eradicated approximately 30,000 marijuana plants from a large grow site, which was approximately 1 ½ miles in length, with a potential street value of approximately $108 million dollars.

During the eradication, two suspects were taken into custody within the grow site.  The suspects were identified as Edilio Navarro age 34 of Lake Elsinore Ca. and Nemessis Venegas age 22 of Perris Ca.  During the arrest five handguns and one rifle were also seized.  There are still several outstanding suspects, who are believed to be armed.  The suspects arrested have been booked in the Mono County Jail with bail set at $50,000 each, and they could be ultimately charged in Federal Court.

With these types of illegal marijuana grow sites, public lands are routinely desecrated with garbage, piping material, etc. The U.S. Forest Service will return to the affected area and complete an extensive cleanup and restoration operation due to the destruction of public lands by these cultivators.  The cleanup and restoration is not only time consuming, but labor intensive and is done at a high cost to the taxpayers.

MONET agents would like to warn outdoor enthusiasts of the dangers of locating one of these grow sites. If you see anything that looks out of place such as cleared areas of forest that should not be cleared, fertilizer bags, black plastic pipes, large camps that seem out of place, or actively growing marijuana plants, please immediately leave the area and note the location, if possible, and notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. These large scale marijuana cultivators are routinely armed and are known to protect the gardens in any way they can.


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46 Responses to 30,000 marijuana plants eradicated, two arrested

  1. Trouble August 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Maybe the cops should apply to open their own wellness center with their new found stash.

    • Trouble August 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      Why so negative people? I bet that 7.25% sales tax on 108 million would pay for your schools next year.

  2. Big Rick OB August 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Why not use the county jail inmates, both Inyo & Mono, to do the “labor intensive” work? And also, what about the Conservation Camp? It makes NO sense at all to pay anyone to clean up this mess when the county has all those convicts (misdemeanor only) just sitting on their butts watching tv.

    • Wilfred S. August 17, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      Perhaps because forced slave-labor is widely frowned upon in modern, civilized countries. Prison slavery is a slippery slope down a path to corruption.

      A simpler solution would be legalizing pot, but that would mean less taxpayer dollars being funneled to law enforcement and the prison system, which currently makes up a complex network of highly influential lobbies paying off our politicians and lawmakers.

    • Reality Bites August 17, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Great Idea Big Rick, Have a bunch of criminals cut down illegal marijuana. I am sure they would not stash any.

      • Big Rick OB August 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

        Reality…read the article. The pot is ALREADY GONE. The labor intrusive work is cleaning up all the water piping, fertilizer bags, and other trash. GEEZ!

    • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      Yes Big Rick .. I agree .. when they catch these guys like this .. put them on a chain gang and other select prisoners and take them out to do clean up and restoration on these sites.

      In fact .. prison labor could do a lot of good in more than one way. Get some free to little cost labor and discourage a lot more folks from wanting to live in the prison system.

  3. Wants to know August 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    So where was it?

  4. Small town girl August 16, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    I think your right. They could bail out the town and then some! its a win win situation.

    • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Gona take more than that to bail out the “town”

  5. Steve August 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    If you come across one of these grow sights, you better put one in the chamber. Stay safe out there.

    • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      Yes these people would kill you if you stumbled into it. it has happened before .. some even booby trap the perimeter, and have look outs. it’s not a walk in the park.

      I remember as a kid going to my grandfather’s cabin for the summer in northern California (Mendocino county) , it was way out in the woods, you could take a canteen and roam the hills all day, come home at dusk .. never worry about the sort of thing that developed there more recently .. you did not go into the forest in later years .. to hike, for fear of getting fragg’d or shot by some pot farmer.

      it is a pretty dangerous thing, and the devastation they leave behind is pretty bad.

  6. salblaster August 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    thats quite a haul, over 100 million street value, thats 3,600$ per plant. in the picture they look kinda small, maybe the big ones were up the hill. whats the benifit for over estimating the crop. a few years back some of the creeks between olancha and indepedence had big crops on them, creeks i have fished my whole life often hiking up to tree line in the canyons and never had clue what was going on until a fire above the fish hatchery in indy uncovered one of the grow sites and a dead body, presumed to be a grower was found. makes me wonder whats going on further back in the sierra’s.

    • Wilfred S. August 17, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      “whats the benifit for over estimating the crop?”

      Law enforcement’s budget is directly tied to these projections. It’s that simple.

      Drug enforcement in this country has become its own cartel. It’s all become a vicious cycle, revolving around greed.

      • Mark August 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

        When someone steals my pot plants and I catch them, I will have the Sheriff arrest them for grand theft using the same over estimatation of my crops worth.

    • Mark August 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      There’s so much pot out there those estimates aren’t even close to being correct.

      Pots basically free among those who legally grow it. Best way to get varity is by trading your buddy a 1/4lb of cush for a 1/4lb of purple haze.

      I’m totally against illegal grows in our forest, now is not the time to be walking around in areas used by these hoodlums. We use to go out and look for grows but it got real scary when we found a few. We hauled butt out of there.

  7. Eastern Sierra local August 17, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    more proof that the only route to stop the illegal grow operations on public land is to legalize marijuana, God wanted it this way that’s why he said, “Behold, I have given you every plant bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, which has seed in its fruit; to you it shall be for food.” Go Jesus!

    • JeanGenie August 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      ESL, Yes such wonderful logic! Try eating some Jimson weed seeds and see how that sets with you, or toast some marshmallows with oleander sticks, and then follow it up with some amanita mushrooms.
      Actually, that might solve some of our overpopulation troubles! Go Jesus!

      • Eastern Sierra local August 20, 2012 at 8:40 am #

        JeanGenie- actually Jimson Weed is a highly potent hallucinogen and I have utilized this “God” given plant for this exact purpose- fabulous!
        Our Native American brothers in the south west showed me how. God is wonderful!

        • JeanGenie August 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

          Dear ESL,
          Before you spout off about the hallucinogenic properties of Jimson weed, or maybe at the same time, you should point out that it is also extremely toxic and can kill or injure one if used improperly. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt because of your “godliness”.
          To anyone out there that may be tempted to try Jimson weed please don’t, no matter what ESL says. His experience is probably limited to reading “The Teachings of Don Juan”, much of which was later shown to be faked/fabricated by Carlos Castaneda.
          I can’t imagine anyone who has actually used Jimson weed describing the experience as “fabulous”, scary is more like it, and like I said, the risk of poisoning is far too great to make this something to do for fun. It contains Belladonna alkaloids, the same as poison nightshade.
          I will attempt to reiterate my point, JUST BECAUSE IT GROWS DOESN”T MAKE IT GOOD!

          • Wilfred S. August 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

            But in the case of marijuana, it’s completely non-toxic. No one has ever died from died from ingesting any amount of this plant, ever.

          • Wayne Deja August 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

            Wilfred S….There is a girl in town that had to be taken to the ER because of ingesting weed…She didn’t die,but got very sick,probably because of what some creep put in it hoping to get her real high and happy and,well,you can guess what else he was wanting once she was passed out…

          • Eastern Sierra local August 21, 2012 at 7:46 am #

            Actually, JeanGenie; you were the one spouting off about the hallucinogenic properties of jimson weed by saying the following, “Try eating some Jimson weed seeds and see how that sets with you, or toast some marshmallows with oleander sticks, and then follow it up with some amanita mushrooms.”
            I only confirmed use of God’s given plants.

        • JeanGenie August 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

          I see you read but do not comprehend, or read your own thoughts into other’s statements. You are the one who initially mentioned Jimson weed’s hallucinogenic properties, not me. I mentioned it as a toxic plant, which it is.

          I sure hope that some kid doesn’t go out and poison themself because you claim its such a great high. In fact if you are saying that, I don’t believe you have actually tried it. Go try it and then come back and blog about greatness, if you’re not in the ER.

          I’m also sure that the closest you ever get to “Our Native American Brothers” is buying gas at the Palace.

    • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      LOL Local then why do a lot of Christians consider it a sin … to smoke pot .. the same as getting drunk .. just an observation. Who knows what Jesus would do … He might fire up .. He might not.

      I don’t think God really cares either way. But every plant shall be for food. I don’t think that was meant .. to smoke LOL … nice one though. Made me chuckle.

  8. sierragrl August 17, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Mexican cartel grow sites are exactly what we don’t want in our country and why legalization of home grown for personal use is a good thing….the mexican cartels are making millions (billions maybe?) and none of that money is hitting the american economy! Get em out a here and the only way that’s going to happen is if every tom, dick and harry can grow their own and use their extras to supply the legal dispensaries…How can anybody be against the legalization of pot? It is way less destructive then alcohol, no if ands or buts, plain and simple. And no, I don’t use it, it’s just common sense.

    • Jeremiah's Alter Ego August 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Well said sierraGrl I fully agree. There is alot of common sense tied to legalizing pot but when somebody only see’s the bad in something and has never been personnally efected by the benefits of pot (Cancer patients, PTSD, Depression, etc.). So what I am saying is your typical conservative that isnt effected by the pot fight or gay merriage because there immediate family isnt effected by it, dont expect them to show any conpasssion for a stranger.
      Dont discriminate!
      Obama 2012!

  9. Mark August 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm #


    Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team (MONET) to combat the cultivation of marijuana within Mono County, MONET agents, with the assistance of the Inyo Narcotics Enforcement Team, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Mono County Paramedics, Mono County Public Works, California Highway Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Justice (CAMP), and the U.S. Customs Service,

    What they’re doing isn’t working. It’s only keeping many of the above employed. The only way to get the pot out of our forest is to legalize it. but then many listed above would be out of a job and out of a pension.

    • Trouble August 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

      I heard the cops have been eating a lot of brownies lately.

      • Trouble August 17, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

        I see my jokes get real negative responses from many, but the truth is that the war on drugs is a complete waste of our time and money. Ever since Reagan declared war on drugs more of our youth have died or been put in prison than ever. Now, more kids are dying from proscription drugs than any other.No one I know of has ever O.D. on pot. This is coming from a person that chooses not to smoke pot anymore. It’s not a drug.

        • Eastern Sierra local August 20, 2012 at 8:43 am #

          Actually the “official” start of the war on drugs was under Nixon a great report just came out on this matter and how the US Taxpayers have spent $5 Trillion over 50 years and the arrests continue upwards, use is upwards, and there’s been no reduction, obviously a failed experiment just like alcohol prohibition in the 1930’s

          • Jeremiah's Alter Ego August 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

            Its up to the American voters to make the difference and hope our sell out repersentitives respect the American voters over the coporate influence.

        • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

          it made me laugh Trouble .. I totally hear ya .. I smoked it years ago .. until had to quit .. I have mixed emotions and opinions on it. I do know .. speaking in regard to recreation, it is not so bad as a lot of people portray it to be. It does has its medical worth, there is no doubt.

          It does not! …. however .. belong in any environment where a person is responsible for any safety related activity, including driving. I firmly believe that, I have said that before.

          As far as legalizing it .. if it were treated like alcohol .. being legal as long as your not driving or flying an air plane or other such activities, then why not legalize it ..

          But this whole paradox will not go away anytime soon, there is too much control involved, and control is a big issue, people have to be controlled.

          Control is a good thing .. to a certain point, then there is a fine line between control and tyranny. if you get what I mean.

          • Last resort February 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

            YOU may not be able to drive on cannabis but for some it should be prescribed so they chill the f out.

    • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      LOL .. the pension thing had to get thrown in there .. figures. But you’re right on the rest of that .. if we legalized it what would we do with half of the INET MONET people? drug enforcement is a big business now days, probably one of the fastest growing industries, so pot will not be legalized anytime soon, no worries there.

  10. esfotoguy August 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    2 yrs ago i was doing a photo assignment for the county and I went out to the crooked meadow area. As I was shooting pics i kept noticing trucks going toward the backside of Bald Mt on a certain road to a spring area. One of my assignments was Bald Mtn…so I drove in that direction…the next thing I knew there were a whole bunch of heavily armed somebodys pointing automatic weapons at me and telling me get out and they searched my car and then told me to turn around and go home….low and behold………it was one of these sites. 2days later there was a major bust…..the guns pointed at me were MONETS….thanks guys….btw…according to the sheriffs I know, the whole Glass Mountain drainage area[all those canyons that drain to Adobe Valley is a popular spot for these farms. Be careful out there.

    • Trouble August 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      esfotoguy- I’m sure that experience was scary, but I have to ask you if you think that would have happen if it was legal?

      • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

        I think trouble, it might still happen .. because even .. if it was legalized .. the people who would grow it .. would still do thins like that .. might not be because it is illegal to grow .. but because as with anything else, the govt. will to regulate it, and you know that will cause just as much of this sort of thing .. people trying to get around the regulations.

        • Big AL August 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

          They can’t just legalize it and let it be .. they will have to regulate it to get their cut, with every regulation the Govt. will get some coin out of it. Cha ching!

  11. MJA August 18, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Pot sucks!


    • Jeremiah's Alter Ego August 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      MJA “pot sucks” if that is all you have to say and that is your only argument to a issue, I would ask somebody like you to get out of the way for the people that have a more informative stance.
      You know what else sucks? A speed limit that the cops cant even abide by.
      The fact those with money and power have vote that counts more and the rich dont abide by the same laws us regulars do. That sucks!

  12. esfotoguy August 18, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Id rather control the mostly ILLEGALS that man these camps…If pot was legal, there would still be people growing higher grade than what Uncle Sam would provide. Id seriously doubt that the cartels would cease because of a US law..
    Last time I checked moonshine is still illegal and alcohol is legal to sell…….decriminalization of pot? yes
    legalization would still put my friends who grow very high grade in jail. Id seriously doubt that any SMART grower would want to be on an official government growers list…oh wait, some of them are and every couple of months their homes get raided for “compliance checks”. When MONET does these ‘checks’, they do it w/ guns drawn.

  13. Dee August 20, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    Prohibition ever works and never has……ending prohibitions aways stifles or does away with black markets associated with said prohibition.
    Two fact that cannot be refuted regarding prohibitions without just flat out lying.
    As others have stated in comments above, legalize pot and this problem goes away. Allow people to grow their own and there would be absolutely no reason for the cartels to be destroying our public lands because their market would dry up.

    The war on pot has never worked, pot is very easy to purchase and always will be………prohibition never works…..just a fact of humanity that the drug warriors wasting our tax payer dollars refuse to admit, they’ve got their heads firmly stuck in the sand.

    • Dee August 20, 2012 at 7:00 am #

      Never works…oops!

  14. ILovetoFish August 20, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    If your against legalization you support the Mexican Cartel, weather you smoke pot or not.


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