Crime

About 400,000 marijuana plants seized in Santa Maria

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Budtender Danny Cress gives a crash course in recreational marijuana, legal in California as of Jan. 1.
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Budtender Danny Cress gives a crash course in recreational marijuana, legal in California as of Jan. 1.

Santa Barbara County officials seized 400,000 marijuana plants in Santa Maria on Monday, according to a news release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

The seizure, in the 2700 block of Telephone Road, stemmed from a criminal investigation authorities were conducting into an illegal marijuana grow “that was concealed among existing farm fields,” according to the release.

During the investigation, officials found that a Santa Maria resident may have given false information to county officials to obtain a temporary state cannabis license and didn’t have a valid license to grow cannabis in California, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The person, who has not been identified, was cultivating the illegal plants, “which ranged in various growth cycles and maturity,” sheriff’s officials said.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office’s Special Investigations Bureau served the search warrant on the property, and authorities from the Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Bureau and Special Enforcement Team, along with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, helped seize the plants, according to the release.

The seizure was the largest in Santa Barbara County “since regulations went into place,” Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, wrote in an email.

It took two days for officials to eradicate all the plants, authorities said.

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