TURLOCK -- Authorities seized more than 160 pounds of marijuana and arrested eight people in busts in Turlock, Newman and Sonora recently.
Authorities described the cases as follows:
In Turlock, narcotics investigators and the SWAT team serving a search warrant in the 900 block of South Avenue on the city's west side found more than 100 pounds of packaged marijuana and a growing operation in the back yard. Officials estimated the total value at more than $150,000. They arrested Ines Suarez, 60, and Rafaela Lopez-Penaloza, 45, both of Turlock.
Police said 64 pounds of marijuana was individually packaged in 1-pound bags for sale; an additional 40 pounds was in various stages of processing. Authorities also recovered a rifle.
The Newman bust took place Wednesday.
While serving an arrest warrant in connection with a grand theft investigation, police discovered about 60 pounds of marijuana at a home on the southern edge of town west of Highway 33.
Newman police initially went to the home in the 1600 block of Great Basin Drive, just west of Upper Road, to serve an arrest warrant for Mary Hope Diaz, 55, of Newman, said department spokesman Lt. Brett Short.
Diaz was not found at the home, and police still were searching for her Thursday.
While searching the home for Diaz, investigators spotted several pounds of marijuana. Newman police then obtained a search warrant and seized the drugs.
Short said it appeared that as many as 25 marijuana plants were grown in the home's back yard and harvested. He said the marijuana was dried in a room built inside the home's garage.
Police arrested five people on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale. Those arrested were:
April Juarez, 33, of Modesto
Luis Garcia, 19, of Ceres
Efrain Garcia, 40, of Turlock
Travis Williamson, 35, of Newman
Andres Rodriguez, 22, of Madera.
Diaz also is wanted for questioning in regard to the marijuana being grown and processed at her home.
Police ask anyone with information about Diaz's whereabouts or the marijuana production at the home to call officer Edgar Gonzalez at (209) 862-2902.
Traffic call leads to pot
In Sonora last week, police arrested a Turlock man after they discovered nearly a pound of marijuana in his vehicle, which had come to a stop after the driver ran over a curb near Sonora High School.
A witness called the Sonora Police Department last week to report seeing a driver cross over a double solid line and nearly strike oncoming traffic. The vehicle came to a stop near the school at 430 N. Washington St.
When officers contacted the driver, Kevin Davis, 19, of Turlock, they suspected he was under the influence of a controlled substance, according to Chief Mark Stinson. They say they noticed a strong odor of pot coming from inside the vehicle.
When police searched the car, they found several Mason jars containing 50 grams each of marijuana and a 2-gallon thermos containing 205 grams of marijuana.
Davis was taken into custody on suspicion of felony transporting and sales of marijuana, Stinson said. He also was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra and online news editor Brian Clark contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.