On June 22, 2018 the Merced County Sheriff’s Office conducted three marijuana investigations in regards to illegal marijuana grows throughout Merced County. Two of the investigations were noticed by Sheriff Vern Warnke who utilized the use of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit helicopter. Sheriff Warnke spotted the suspected marijuana grows from the air and took several photographs of the properties which assisted deputies who completed these investigations. The collaboration between the Sheriff, Aviation Unit, Detective Bureau and deputies lead to many successful operations each week.

Based on pictures, you can clearly see the marijuana plants were found spaced evenly and planted in the same manner seen at more several grow sites this year. Often times subjects involved in the illegal cultivation, packaging and distribution of marijuana commonly attempt to conceal their growing operation(s) to avoid detection from law enforcement. Residential marijuana gardens are typically concealed by plastic, tarps and camouflage netting; makeshift fencing and false walls on the property. This concealment method is also an attempt to prevent other subject(s) from committing acts of violence in an attempt to steal the marijuana plants.

During the three marijuana investigations completed today, two subjects were arrested during investigation for the violations of H&S 11358 and MMC 9.29.060.

Deputies confiscated more than 250 pounds of dried and processed marijuana and eradicated 150 outdoor plants from the large greenhouses, and took custody of several firearms.

CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 64 INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW: On November 9, 2016 California approved proposition 64 to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. State law defines the amount of marijuana that a qualified patient or their primary caregiver can possess and cultivate. Adults over the age of 21 can cultivate up to six plants per residence and possess the marijuana produced by these plants. All plants and harvest in excess of one ounce must be kept in a locked space not in public view at one’s residence. Local governance may forbid all outdoor cultivation, but must allow it inside a private residence or accessory structure that is “fully enclosed and secure.” Merced county enforces the following cultivation restrictions found in county ordinance section 9.29.060; (1) outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana is prohibited in all areas of the county, (2) indoor cultivation is limited to 6 plants per residence and must be contained within a single private residence or within a fully enclosed structure, secured by lock and key or other security device that is inaccessible to minors, (3) cultivation must comply with building and construction code, title 16, (4) cultivation cannot be conducted in a manner that constitutes a public nuisance and (5) primary use of the property must remain at all times a residence.

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