NEWMAN -- Drug enforcement agents on Wednesday arrested six people found on a 14-acre property east of Newman near the Stanislaus River, where about 1,000 marijuana plants were being grown illegally.
In Modesto, the Police Department's narcotics enforcement team also shut down a marijuana grow, arresting two people and hauling off 41 plants, about half of which were 10 feet tall.
Investigators estimate that the marijuana plants seized in Newman have a street value of $3 million. The plants were in various stages of growth, and many were ready to be harvested, said Detective Steven Stanfield, a Modesto police spokesman.
The Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency discovered the large, sophisticated marijuana growing operation on rural property near River and Hills Ferry roads.
The narcotics task force is made up of investigators from various police agencies in Stanislaus County, as well as state and federal investigators. The task force last week seized about 1,500 marijuana plants growing on rural property south of Modesto.
Stanfield said the task force initially received an anonymous tip of a possible marijuana-growing operation on the property near Newman. The narcotics agents conducted follow-up investigation and served a search warrant at the property about 7 a.m. Wednesday.
The Stanislaus County sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics team assisted.
Stanfield said the marijuana plants were spread throughout the property and were hidden in part by dense vegetation along the river's edge. He said the people found at the property were tending the outdoor marijuana garden and were booked at the Stanislaus County Jail, charged with marijuana cultivation.
Those arrested were: Phanetavanh Southammavong, 43, of Modesto; Symery Saykganya, 56, of Modesto; Annie Vong Seneko, 50, of Fresno; Vong Thounethepmith, 56, of Fresno; Sengphachanh Boungnavong, 33, of Fresno; and Sam Kounhavong, 50, of Fresno.
The Modesto grow was in the back yard of a home in the 100 block of South Santa Rita Avenue. The 10-foot plants were tall enough to be visible from nearby Yosemite Boulevard, said police Sgt. Rick Applegate. Those bigger plants were capable of yielding at least 2 pounds each, with an estimated value of $1,500 a pound.
Frederick Moreira, 56, and his mother, Maria Moreira, 74, were arrested on suspicion of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale, Applegate said. Maria Moreira was charged with interfering with an investigation.
The search warrant that led to the raid was issued because the home was associated with a recent incident in which someone was shot with rock salt, Applegate said.
The shooting apparently was in protection of the marijuana crop, he said.