UPDATE: KCSO names those arrested in marijuana grow crackdown in Ridgecrest, Inyokern

Crime Watch

UPDATE (6/28): The Kern County Sheriff’s Office on Monday named those arrested on drug-related offenses in last week’s operation targeting illegal marijuana grows.

Deputies arrested Mauricio Garcia, 24, Eric Castaneda, 31, Jose Suck, 46, Santos Cruz, 21, Manuel Trinidad Guzman, 41, Marcela Cruz, 19, Andy Zhang, 40, Kevin Yang, 43, Leo Shi, 37, Feng Liu, 41, Xiaoyan Guo, 46, Chhom Rey, 60, Chhip Chhom, 50, Chan Sokham, 62, Deephano Em, 50, Sam Mey, 52, Ina Oak, 57, Eat Ing, 65, Pon Samreth, 60, Pete Preap, 51, Mokika Vann, 35, Sitha Seing, 50, Sharlene Mey, 49, Prak Chamruin, 63, Vanny Nuth, 63, Luey Mith, 54, Francisco Ernesto Morfen-Martinez, 24, Adan Munoz Zepeta, 33, and Zan Qixiong, 60.

RIDGECREST, Calif. (KGET) — Nearly 30 people were arrested this week as part of an operation targeting illegal marijuana grows in Ridgecrest and Inyokern.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office said on Tuesday and Wednesday, deputies along with personnel from several other agencies arrested 29 people after KCSO received numerous complaints from residents regarding illegal marijuana operations in the area.

Residents said there has been an increase in violent crime and trash linked to the grows and that the operators are stealing and diverting water away from farmers and residents, according to KCSO.

The department said detectives with the Narcotics Investigations Unit served search warrants at 10 illegal marijuana cultivation sites. During the operation, deputies eliminated nearly 14,000 marijuana plants, seized around 874 pounds of processed marijuana as well as eight firearms.

The arrestees were booked on suspicion of several offenses, including cultivation of marijuana, possessing marijuana for sales, keeping/maintaining a place for narcotics sales, conspiracy and resisting a peace officer.

KCSO said during the searches, deputies also found multiple unknown chemicals that were not labeled. One bottle was labeled in Sharpie “veneno muerto,” which translates to “poison death.” The department said the chemicals were likely used to keep bugs and animals away from the plants.

“Many of these illegal grow sites are in remote, desert locations and can be difficult to access,” KCSO said. “While remediation efforts can become challenging and time consuming, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to eradicating these illegal operations and keeping our community safe.”

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