Fresno County Sheriff's deputies uprooted a large pot garden on Friday. It contained 9,000 plants, which has an estimated street value of $55 million.
The grow was located on a farm in Sanger along Belmont Avenue, between Bethel and Academy.
“Somewhere between 3 and 10 lbs. is what plants like this produce because of the number of cuttings and how big they end up being,” said Lt. Rick Ko of the Fresno Co. Sheriff’s Dept.
The pot plants seized are difficult to spot at ground level, but from the air, the bright green color jumps out to deputies riding in a helicopter. A federal search warrant was served on the 80 acre parcel because half of it contained marijuana.
“It's one of those events that occur very often because of the medical marijuana laws in California,” said Lt. Ko.
Crews spent more than eight hours Friday grabbing hundreds of loads of weed, which deputies say Southeast Asian farmers were trying to hide between vegetables like corn and squash.
Lieutenant Ko's team is busiest right now because it's harvest season.
“As the days grow shorter, marijuana is excreting more THC and more resins to attract male pollen to reproduce. So the buds get bigger quicker and that's what people are looking for,” said Lt. Ko.
Filthy huts could be seen that growers were living in while tending to the garden. A low lifestyle they adopt all to turn a profit.
Deputies have arrested one person and detained 15 others for questioning.
Now that their operation is destroyed, neighbors can relax.
“If you look at the type of murders we've had in Fresno County this year associated with marijuana grows, you’ll see there’s been home invasion robberies and assault with deadly weapons. It is very dangerous,” said Lt. Ko.
This bust is part of Operation Mercury, which is a federal crackdown that's now seized more than 400,000 marijuana plants this year.