San Andreas, CA — Calaveras sheriff’s officials spent 12-plus hours Tuesday eradicating a six-acre medical marijuana grow, hauling off a roughly 16,000-pound harvest for burial.
According to Calaveras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio, “We had a grow in the 19000 block of Potteroff Road in Railroad Flat…a site that is about an eight-acre parcel with about six acres of marijuana on it…multiple families who had purchased growing rights from the owner.” He adds, “Since April, we have been telling them that they are out of compliance…we finally got all the civil paperwork done through our compliance unit and got a warrant from a judge to do it — and that is what we did today.”
Since compliance officials visited the site last Thursday, two of the subleased areas had already been harvested. Sheriff DiBasilio wryly notes, “We told them we would be back soon and I guess they heeded the warning and cut their grow and left but the other ones decided to stay.”
Further describing the operation, the sheriff recounts, that the cannabis enforcement unit began cutting the crop around 6 a.m. and that it took about 12 hours for 60 loads of marijuana to be helicoptered into dump trucks and transported to a landfill. Once buried, the crop quickly turns to mush, he explains, due to the heat and moisture content. He estimates there were nearly 4,600 mature plants in his department’s haul. With a value at perhaps $3,000 dollars per plant, the destroyed crop might carry a street value of well over $13 million.
Since being out of compliance with the county ordinance is a civil matter, the growers are not facing criminal charges over the incident. While he could not say whether more helicopters over Calaveras were in the works this week, he states that growers who are not abiding by the local laws should realize that his office means business. Matter-of-factly, he emphasizes, The growers need to know that we are not playing games.”