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Sheriff, Forest Service raid two marijuana operations

Dan McDonald
Managing Editor
8/8/2014

The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service joined forces to shut down two major marijuana-growing operations last week.

According to Sheriff Greg Hagwood, the operations were run by Mexican drug cartels.

Both of the grow sites were located in the Feather River Canyon. The exact locations were withheld because the investigation and search for more, possibly related, sites is ongoing.

Officers descended on the first site Tuesday, July 29. The second raid took place Wednesday, July 30.

About 25 officers took part in the raids that removed more than 6,000 mature marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $9 million.

“These are two of several drug cartel operations currently operating inside Plumas County,” Hagwood said. “Evidence indicates these suspects are from Mexico and have been encamped at the grow sites for several months.”

One of the suspects — Alejandro Soto-Silva, 21, of Santa Rosa — was arrested Wednesday after attempting to flee. The sheriff said Soto-Silva “suffered significant injuries as a result of being bitten by a law enforcement dog.”

The sheriff said four other Hispanic males escaped. He said no arrests were made during the Tuesday raid.

The injured Soto-Silva was transported to Plumas District Hospital before being moved to the Plumas County jail.

Hagwood said officers from his staff and the Forest Service have been actively investigating several growing operations for the past three months.

According to Investigations Sgt. Steve Peay, both of the marijuana gardens were located in rugged terrain.

The July 29 raid uncovered about 2,700 plants spread out over 500 yards. The second garden produced more than 3,000 plants flanking a trail that extended about a half-mile.

The plants were eradicated and flown out in bundles by helicopter.

Peay said several camps were located in the grow area. There was evidence that at least six people were camping and tending to the garden.

He said the characteristics of both gardens were consistent with the crops of large drug-trafficking organizations operated by a Mexican drug cartel.

The sheriff’s office warns people to be on guard when they venture to remote parts of the forest.

Pay said illegal marijuana growers will go to just about any extent to protect their crops. He said they will set booby traps or even shoot at unsuspecting people who get too close.

“Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are urged to remain observant of any suspicious activities they encounter as these operations are ongoing throughout the county,” Hagwood said.

“Of course — as usual — there is significant resource damage and pollution associated with these drug cartel operations, in addition to the diversion of huge amounts of water from springs and streams,” the sheriff said.

He added the trash left by the gardeners usually includes large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, which can leach into the watershed.

Signs of a marijuana farm often include the presence of a drip line, remote campsites, gardening tools, bags of fertilizer or pesticides, trash piles and encounters with unusual individuals on national or private lands.

The Forest Service is planning to conduct a cleanup of the two sites in the coming weeks.

“I want to thank the U.S. Forest Service and commend the great effort of my staff in eradicating these criminal enterprises that have and continue to represent a threat to public safety and our natural resources,” Hagwood said.

In addition to sheriff’s department and Forest Service personnel, the raids were conducted with the assistance of PJ’s Helicopter, A&P Helicopter Service and the Quincy Fire Department.





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That's why those Tacos tasted so good!!!
VOTES:-3
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It is possible this group is associated with a cartel. Given the name of the suspect caught and the description of those that fled makes it probable, let's keep it real. However, it is also in the best interest of the governmental peacekeepers to perpetuate fear in our society and try to associate this with larger issues. The association is when you hear cartel you think of death, violence, and murders. I didn't hear any mention that weapons were found and I'm sure had there been that would have been stated. Though I would like to see resources pointed elsewhere I certainly do not condone the use and destruction of our open space this way. Ending the prohibition of cannabis would take the money and power away from the criminal elements that operate in that underworld. And yes the tacos were delicious, dos mas tacos por favor.
VOTES:6
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Thank you to our elected officials for the attention to our local resources. Job well done.
VOTES:1
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Gee... maybe if it were legalized, the cartel would go other places to grow... or they may go out of business!
VOTES:4
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The current legalization of marijuana in Colorado has actually increased black market sales because its cheaper. A more secure border is the only solution.
VOTES:2
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Can you provide a new article to prove what you wrote?
VOTES:0
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That's 'News article" not new article
VOTES:0
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It was on NPR, I'm sure you could google it. I was surprised, cause they tend to be more liberal, but facts are facts.
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Is Plumasnews.com censoring comments?
VOTES:0
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We do remove inappropriate comments as per our policy but we do not censor based on contrary opinions.. But we are also having a few issues with our new comment system. Try re-posting the comment you are concerned about.
VOTES:1

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