Raids uncover 16K pot plants

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat /

Law enforcement officials this week pulled some 16,000 marijuana plants from public land around Tuolumne County - part of annual eradication efforts.

The Tuolumne Narcotics Team was assisted by state and federal law enforcement agencies in the three-day sweep, which involved raids on five gardens, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Jim Oliver.

Evidence indicated Mexican national drug cartels maintained all of the grow operations, Oliver said.

Each grow site contained ammunition and evidence of firearm presence. Authorities also found an AK-47 rifle with a 30-round magazine.

Eradication efforts will continue at least through the usual marijuana growing season, concluding at the end of October.

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