Monday, 23 July 2007 02:03

Camp Busts Another Illegal Growth in the Foothills

slide36Tuolumne County officials have announced the discovery and destruction of more than 9,000 marijuana plants worth roughly $2 million dollars. The bust occurred in southern Tuolumne County late last week. Members of the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office and the Tuolumne Narcotic Team, were joined by the state’s CAMP  team, or Campaign Against Marijuana Planting  team, after deputies had discovered the grow from an aerial surveillance conducted from a flyover earlier in the month. Law enforcement mulched and then burned the 9,072 plants found in the Moccasin area. 

July to October is the harvest season for marijuana, and because officials from all law agencies are on the lookout for these illegal plantations as well as the activities surrounding this time of year, there have been numerous busts recently. This bust was the fifth in a two-month span that has yielded nearly 12,000 plants that have been found and destroyed in the Mother Lode, mainly in Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties. In 2006, the Tuolumne Narcotic Team uprooted and destroyed more than 80,000 plants in that county alone.

Thursday, the teams also seized a loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun, 9 mm ammunition and rifle ammunition, but no suspects were caught. "When they sense that we're coming into the area, they flee. They're probably still wandering," Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Dan Bressler told the Union Democrat.  "They either wander and find another plot or get picked up." Like many recent busts, evidence at the scene and the style of the plot suggest the plants were a "Mexican DTO Grow" — or Drug Trafficking Organization, Bressler said. The plants, between 6 and 30 inches tall when found, were located on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land.