San Bernardino County – The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) has issued an advisory that on August 20 and 21, Enforcement Team Deputies conducted investigations resulting in the service of nine search warrants at residential properties in various unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County, including the communities of Joshua Tree, Landers, Bloomington and Helendale.
The locations were found to have large-scale outdoor marijuana cultivations. The marijuana plants were growing in unsecured fenced in areas, commonly referred to as “Plywood Grows.” The investigations revealed all of the marijuana cultivation operations were illegal and not in compliance with California medical marijuana laws.
The investigations resulted in total seizures of 5,557 marijuana plants, 171.5 pounds of processed marijuana, four firearms, a large quantity of Hydrocodone pills – and the arrest of 14 suspects.
Suspects Carlos Gonzales, 41 of Los Angeles; Angie Colindrez, 19, of Los Angeles; Manuel Perez, 48, of Los Angeles; Andres Marquez, 29, of Los Angeles; Jose Rascon, 60, of Bloomington; Thonekeo Sounannavong, 55, of Fresno; Alex Aphayboun, 46, of Sacramento; Xayadeth Kayavong, 38, of Fresno; Athith Kayavong, 35, of Fresno; Phouthone Khaithianthong, 52, of Porterville; Lee Callan, 58, of Landers; Aquilino Villasenor, 50 of Mexico; Roberto Zavala, 44, of Bakersfield; and Manuel Madrigal-Castillo, 21, of Mexico, were all arrested.
The large amount of marijuana seized at the individual locations suggests the suspects had no intention of abiding by the states medical marijuana laws and were strictly for-profit operations. Many of the suspects were utilizing fictitious medical marijuana recommendations in an effort to deceive law enforcement personnel into thinking the operations were legitimate.
The County of San Bernardino has an ordinance prohibiting outdoor marijuana cultivations. San Bernardino County Code Enforcement personnel assisted with the cultivation investigations for administrative enforcement of County Code violations. The Sheriff’s Narcotics Division will continue to enforce California marijuana laws as well as the San Bernardino County Ordinances regarding marijuana cultivation and distribution. Persons found to be violating state marijuana laws and county ordinances or utilizing medical marijuana recommendations under false pretenses are subject to fines, prosecution and seizure of property.
Anyone with information regarding the above investigations or other illegal cultivation locations is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Narcotics Division at (909)890-4840. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463), or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com.