Information provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
On July 9, wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) along with support from the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team, California Department of Food and Agriculture and other allied agencies, served eight search warrants spanning 12 parcels in a rural part of San Benito County known as Willow Springs Ranch.
According to a CDFW release, the warrants stemmed from surveillance of the area that revealed dozens of suspected illegal cannabis cultivation sites scattered along the hillside. This operation involved over 50 peace officers and non-sworn personnel from three separate agencies. The release said the effort could not have been accomplished without the successful collaboration.
CDFW said a records check confirmed none of the parcels were permitted by the county nor were they licensed by the state for commercial cannabis cultivation.
Upon serving the search warrants, the release said officers discovered a total of 11,404 illegal cannabis plants, numerous Fish and Game code violations relating to pollution near a waterway, and illegal streambed alteration, which can significantly harm local wildlife. Along with this, 1,772 pounds of processed cannabis was seized, countless building code violations were documented, several illegal firearms were confiscated and a large-scale butane honey oil lab was shut down.
Several suspects were detained during the operations, and the release said criminal charges will be filed with the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office for consideration. No further information is available at this time as these are ongoing investigations.
More information on CDFW’s cannabis program can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis.