Authorities nab 2, seize 1,200 marijuana plants


By Alex MacLean / The Union Democrat

Two men thought to be in the country illegally were arrested Friday morning after authorities raided an illicit marijuana growing site on public land south of Groveland, according to the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office.

Rosendo Gonzalez, 42, and Jose Moreno-Torres, 31, were booked into Tuolumne County Jail on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana in the Jackass Ridge area.

Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Wilson said the arrests stem from an investigation into a suspected illegal marijuana grow site on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Wilson said Sheriff's narcotics agents flew over the area by helicopter on June 6 and spotted the suspicious plants. Marijuana plants generally are a different shade of green than the surrounding vegetation, according to Wilson.

He said the Tuolumne Narcotics Team raided the site during the early morning hours Friday, arresting both men and uprooting 1,255 suspected marijuana plants.

Both men were also being held on no-bail immigration holds for allegedly being in the country illegally, according to jail booking logs. Both men were listed as transients on the booking sheets.

Wilson said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials usually request a 48-hour, non-bondable hold while determining whether a suspect from out of the country is subject to deportation.

He said it was unclear in the reports where authorities believed the two men were originally from.

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