More than 4,000 marijuana plants were seized and five people arrested as part of a multiagency drug raid at a ranch southwest of Modesto along the San Joaquin River this week.
The same site was raided in September and 1,600 plants were destroyed, but no one was arrested. Drug agents flew over the site again this year and discovered the marijuana was back and had multiplied, said Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves.
The raid was conducted Wednesday by the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, along with members of the Modesto Police Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and American Medical Response, at a ranch west of Modesto’s wastewater treatment plant on Jennings Road.
Drug agents discovered several outdoor marijuana grow sites on the uninhabited area of the ranch, which is surrounded by the San Joaquin River, Graves said.
The elaborate operation included irrigation that used water pumps, a generator and several miles of water lines.
Also on the property were multiple campsites with tents, a fully equipped outdoor kitchen and approximately 2 tons of garbage and hazardous materials. The debris and hazardous chemicals were polluting the nearby San Joaquin River and other waterways, Graves said.
Investigators seized about 4,216 plants, which weighed 2,000 pounds.
Graves said investigators used the Sheriff’s Department helicopter to access the ranch, due to its difficult terrain.
Arrested for possession of marijuana for sale, cultivation, pollution of the waterways, illegal dumping, and Immigration and Naturalization hold were: Rafael Medina, 32; Santos Zavala, 30; Humberto Salgado, 37; Indolfo Romero, 47; and Gilberto Lizarraga, 23. Zavala, Salgado and Lizarraga are Modestans, a news release from Graves said. No residences were given for the others.
Anyone with information regarding illegal drug activity is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637; type TIP704 along with the message.