Bay Area a Hot Spot for Pot Grows

Secret gardens yield millions worth of pot

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Experts say Northern California is a favorite for Mexican drug cartels because the climate if easy on the plants and the topography hides the secret gardens.

    About $18 million worth of pot won't make it to the streets after a bust in the San Jose foothills.

    Acting on a tip, deputies from the Santa Clara Sheriff's Marijuana Eradication Team at about 8 a.m. found a marijuana garden off Hicks Road in the foothills above San Jose, Sgt. Rick Sung said.

    When they got to the hidden grow, they found a man tending to pot plants. They quickly arrested 24-year-old Jesus Ochoachacon and he's being held on $1 million for growing and maintaining marijuana. Another man, who police only describe as Hispanic, ran from the site.

    There were also shotgun shells at the site but police did not find a firearm, Sung said.

    The grow included two large gardens full of mature plants connected by well-worn foot paths. About 6,100 plants with a street value of more than $18 million was found at the garden, Sung said.

    The huge amount of eradicated marijuana will be burned at a remote site, Sung said. 

    Since April, the sheriff's special unit has destroyed has destroyed more than 90,000 marijuana plants, worth $270 million, and arrested two suspects.

    Another anonymous tip led Alameda authorities to a major marijuana growing operation in a remote area of Alameda County earlier this week.

    Deputies and state agents uncovered more than 15,000 marijuana plants and a campsite in Sunol earlier this week, Alameda County Sheriff's Lt. Kelly Miles said.

    The discovery of the marijuana garden Monday comes after deputies found a marijuana grow last month in Sunol with 22,000 plants.

    An official with the Sheriff's Department says that find was the largest marijuana growing operation uncovered in the agency's history.

    Drug agents say Mexican drug cartels have set up shop in Northern California because the topography is good for hiding the secret gardens and the climate is friendly to the plants.