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RAW: Four thousand marijuana plants, 350 pounds of processed marijuana seized from Lone Pine area backcountry

August 23, 2013

Marijuana seized in rugged canyon west of Lone Pine, Aug. 21. Photo/Submitted

A massive marijuana seizure occurred earlier this week in a steep drainage above Lone Pine called Hogsback Creek, according to the Inyo County Sheriff's Department.

According to a news release from the agency, on Aug. 21,"a massive multiagency eradication operation was successfully accomplished above Hogback Creek west of Lone Pine.

"Inyo Narcotics Enforcement Team (INET) and agents from the United States Forest Service have been investigating this particular grow-site and gathering evidence since May, 2013.

"About 4,000 marijuana plants were removed from the site, as well as 350 pounds of processed marijuana.

"One arrest was made during the operation, 23-year-old Jose Salvador Garcia-Rodrigiuez from Lake Elsinore, Calif.

"Early this morning INET and Forest Service Officers conducted a felony traffic stop south of Sage Flat Road on Highway 395 in Olancha; seven more arrests were made all with ties to the Hogback cultivation site.

"Those arrests include: 22-year-old German Ortiz Guzman from Bakersfield: 34-year-old Antonio Suastegui from Bakersfield; 44-year-old Lorenzo Perez-Meza from Bakersfield; 49-year-old Refugio Guzman from Bakersfield; 25-year-old Javier Morales from Homeland, Calif.; 19-year-old Jesus Solis Jr. from Garden Grove, Calif.: and 41-year-old Isaac Duran-Solis from Bakersfield.

"All are being held at the Inyo County Jail under the following charges: marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana for the purpose of sales, and conspiracy.

"Marijuana cultivation causes extreme damage to ecosystems. As part of the illegal cultivation process, growers are responsible for using miles of plastic tubing and diverting water from natural sources for crop irrigation.

"The use of banned herbicides and pesticides is also common practice. Massive amounts of trash and chemicals were transported from the Hogback cultivation site; the estimated quantity is at minimum 2,000 pounds.

"In addition, officers located banned hazardous materials which required the response of a Hazmat professional.

"Assisting in the eradication operation were Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bishop Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, as well as all agencies assisting in the eradication operation, want to remind residents and visitors of the dangers that are inherent in marijuana cultivation.

"As soon as you become aware that you have come upon a cultivation site, leave immediately. Do not attempt to engage with the growers.

"Once in a safe place, report as much details about the location to law enforcement."

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