Deputies raided a rural residence southwest of Valley Springs on Friday, seized 463 marijuana plants, more than 170 pounds of processed pot, 14.6 ounces of concentrated marijuana oil, two rifles, one handgun and one shotgun, and arrested a 43-year-old Jenny Lind man, a Calaveras County sheriff’s sergeant said Monday.
Marijuana Enforcement Team deputies went to a 4- to 5-acre property on Almond Drive off Highway 26 on Friday and did a warranted search on grounds of alleged illegal marijuana cultivation, said sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Stark.
The Jenny Lind property was said to be a marijuana cultivation operation, making it illegal under the ban on commercial cannabis activities in Calaveras County.
Inside the home was an indoor marijuana grow, an indoor butane honey oil conversion lab and some pot plants in a garage, and a greenhouse outside the residence, Stark said. Butane honey oil is also known as hash oil and marijuana concentrate. Photos released by the Sheriff’s Office show potted plants growing in an interior area under lights with fans situated for circulating air, a pressurized container and other gear set up indoors to convert cannabis to oil concentrate, a greenhouse with plastic walls and arched ceiling, and potted plants and plastic jugs inside the greenhouse.
Calaveras County deputies have seized 4,013 marijuana plants and 311 pounds of processed pot so far in 2019, Stark said. Asked how many illegal grows Marijuana Enforcement Team deputies have cracked down on so far this year, Stark said he didn’t have that information. Asked how enforcement this year compares to last year, Stark said deputies had seized 3,700 plants as of late March 2018.
The arrested man was identified as Jason R. Martinez, 43, of Jenny Lind, who had at least one prior unspecified felony conviction. He was booked at Calaveras County Jail in San Andreas on suspicion of illegal marijuana cultivation, maintaining a drug house, possessing marijuana for sale, criminal conspiracy, extracting cannabis concentrate in a dwelling, possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person.
Martinez had bail set at $150,000, he posted bond before sundown Friday, and he was no longer in custody as of Monday. Staff with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office urge anyone with information about illegal marijuana cultivation sites or sites manufacturing concentrated cannabis to call the Sheriff’s Marijuana Tip Line at (209) 754-6870.
In recent years, government and law enforcement officials have estimated there were as many as 1,500 to 2,000 illegal grows in Calaveras County.
Asked what the budget is for the county’s Marijuana Enforcement Team in September, Sheriff Rick DiBasilio said, “There is no real MET budget as they are paid out of my patrol budget just like a patrol deputy.”
A 538-page FY 2018-19 recommended budget for Calavera County shows the Sheriff’s Office patrol budget with revenues of $2,287,889, a net increase of $62,329 from 2017-18.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.