SANGER – The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department and agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration raided a 50-acre pot farm near Sanger on Thursday morning.
A federal search warrant was served around 6 a.m. to the farm located on California Avenue east of McCall Avenue, just a half-mile away from an elementary school. Behind the tarp-covered fences, which were also topped with barbed wire, deputies found thousands of marijuana plants in many different stages of growth. Some of the plants were inches tall, while others had reached heights of up to eight feet.
Officials said the plants are worth many millions of dollars.
Officers took more than 50 people at the farm into custody for questioning, but no arrests have yet been reported.
John Donnelly with the DEA confirmed that the investigation into the marijuana farm is being done on a federal level.
“There’s not much I can say about the investigation in and of itself other than it’s obviously a marijuana investigation,” he said.
Fresno County Supervisors recently voted to ban outdoor marijuana growth, allowing the sheriff’s deputies to raid the large marijuana farm. The DEA joined in because federal law does not recognize the legality of medical marijuana use, Donnelly said.
This particular farm was involved in a similar crime last raid, and deputies became aware that it was operating again, said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.
“We got information just from neighbors in the area, there was no secret from the people living here of what was going on, and (there were) numerous community complaints,” she said.
Mims said that acreage-wise, this was the single largest marijuana bust in county history.
“This is actually a domestic drug trafficking cartel,” she said. “I haven’t heard of any acreage of this size being involved in marijuana cultivation.”