Illegal marijuana grow dismantled

A landslide is shown behind an illegal marijuana grow that was busted Thursday. — Contributed

One of several in recent months

BOULDER CREEK — Santa Cruz County officials on Thursday dismantled an illegal marijuana grow in Boulder Creek, the latest in a recent string of incidents involving the cannabis black market.

When Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant in the 200 block of Hill House Road, they found 3,321 cannabis plants under cultivation in the residence, as well as nine non-permitted greenhouses.

Investigators and County regulatory staff also discovered evidence of a landslide adjacent to the commercial greenhouses, which they attributed to water runoff from the cultivation operation.

Investigators turned off electricity to the residence due to fire danger from multiple overloaded circuits and substandard wiring.

They also contacted three people that appeared to be tending to the commercial cannabis operation.

One of the people was arrested after failing to properly identity themselves.

The property owner faces civil fines, and the property was red-tagged by the County Planning Department due to numerous building violations, county spokesman Jason Hoppin said.

Investigators will now look at how much the greenhouse operation contributed to the landslide.

The bust is the latest in a series involving the illegal cannabis market, which has been made easier by the assignment of three Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies to the County’s Cannabis Licensing Office.

According to Hoppin, deputies investigating illicit grow operations in the remote Santa Cruz Mountains frequently discover additional ones, thus triggering new investigations.

On Wednesday, two men from Texas were arrested after robbing two Boulder Creek residents while attempting to purchase 10 pounds of marijuana.

In May, state and local officials served search warrants on eight land parcels in the 17000 block of Bear Creek Road in Boulder Creek, and an 80-acre parcel of land in the 500 block of Whalebone Gulch Road in Boulder Creek. They seized 1,673 cannabis plants under cultivation inside large, non-permitted greenhouses, 61 pounds of processed cannabis, 50 pounds of recently harvested cannabis plants, 6.9 pounds of processed cannabis concentrate, gold and silver valued at approximately $67,000 and $53,330 in U.S. currency.

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