Ripon police officers patrolling the Stanislaus River in kayaks spied an illegal encampment and arrested one of the residents on a drug charge, officials said.
According to a news release, officers found the camp at 2:54 p.m. Thursday near the Highway 99 bridge in Ripon. They detained several suspects, one of whom was on probation.
When they searched Thomas Joseph Bettencourt, 33, of Ripon, officers said, they found a syringe and a substance suspected to be methamphetamine. Bettencourt was booked into San Joaquin County Jail on charges including drug possession.
Sgt. Steve Merchant said police are stepping up patrols in the river to combat illegal encampments that destroy riparian habitat and to deal with problems of graffiti and theft.