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August 16, 2012
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Authorities interdict marijuana grows along Sierra

Authorities continued to work on eradicating a marijuana farm in the mountains above Jacks Valley on Thursday.

Alpine View residents reported dust from Washoe County's Raven helicopter rising in the mountains and a concentration of law enforcement along Jacks Valley Road.

Douglas County investigators, Drug Enforcement Administration agents and U.S. Forest Service rangers combed the woods for suspected pot farmers.

Further south, Mono County authorities reported destroying 30,000 marijuana plants in a 1.5 mile long grow in the Inyo National Forest on Wednesday and Thursday. Undersheriff Ralph Obenberger said the potential street value of the plants is $108 million.

Obenberger said two men were arrested in connection with the grow, Edilio Navarro, 34, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., and Nemessis Venegas, 22, of Perris, Calif. Their bail was set at $50,000, and they may face federal charge.

Authorities found five handguns and a rifle during the arrest. Obenberger said there are several individuals still being sought.

"With these types of illegal marijuana grow sites, public lands are routinely desecrated with garbage, piping material, etc.," Obenberger said. "The U.S. Forest Service will return to the affected area and complete an extensive cleanup and restoration operation due to the destruction of public lands by these cultivators. The cleanup and restoration is not only time consuming, but labor intensive and is done at a high cost to the taxpayers."

Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team agents warned outdoor enthusiasts to leave an area immediately if they spot anything that looks out of place and to note the location.

"These large scale marijuana cultivators are routinely armed and are known to protect the gardens in any way they can," Obenberger said.

In addition to Mono drug agents, the Inyo Narcotics Enforcement Team, Inyo County Sheriff's Office, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Mono County Paramedics, Mono County Public Works, California Highway Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Justice, and the U.S. Customs Service, participated in the project.

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The Record Courier Updated Aug 17, 2012 11:27AM Published Aug 16, 2012 08:23PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.