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Marijuana bust in North County

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A North County grove is undergoing investigation after narcotics task force agents, being led by the Drug Enforcement Administration raided 350 marijuana plants early last Wednesday. The plants, worth more than $1.4 million, were hidden away on a 40-acre property located just south of the Westfield North County shopping mall.

The land is owned by the city of San Diego and leases the property to the tree-growing company, Bid Tree’s Nursery Inc. which leases part of the land to Evergreen Nursery. Neither of these companies are suspected of being involved said DEA spokeswoman Eileen Zeidler.

Marijuana

The property is located near the intersection of Highland Valley and Pomerado road. Investigators arrived on the scene at 6:15 a.m. No suspects have been identified Zeidler said, but evidence from the illicit crop has been collected an may serve to identified the growers.

The marijuana plants were not visible to the public eye because overgrown brush and trees hid the 1 to 8 foot high plants. 10 investigators were sent to remove the plants while dressed in head-to-toe camouflage. It took them about an hour and a half to confiscate the illegal plants.

The crop growers left Fosfuro Zinc, rat poison illegal in the U.S., as well as a shovel and plant fertilizer. Along with illegal drug growth, the growers are looking at possible water theft Zeidler told reporters. The growers tapped into the Big Tree Nursery Inc’s well to irrigate the crop.

Charlie Jancic said he was unaware of the drugs being grown on his property and that he had not noticed any large differences in his water bill other than minor fluctuations depending on the time of year.

“I’m not surprised, but I’m not happy,” Jancic told the San Diego Union- Tribune.

The task forces involved in solving the pot operation include the DEA, San Diego Police Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Border Patrol, along with other law enforcement agencies. Since the beginning of 2010 task forces have seized about 115,000 plants, worth more than $462 billion according to the DEA.

While all this is going on there is a stark debate over the future legality of marijuana. A California voter initiative that would legalize possession and sale of marijuana qualified for the November ballot, and residents will vote in a state wide election in a few months.

Polls show many support the measure. Reports from April 2009 show that 56 percent of Californians favor making it legal for social use and taxing the sales proceeds. In comparison, an October Gallup poll found 44 percent of all Americans favored legalization.

Photo courtesy of USFS Region 5 via Flickr.

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