The discovery last week by sheriff’s deputies and agents with the Madera County Narcotics Enforcement Team of nearly 11,000 marijuana plants in a nursery setting in North Fork is just a small indicator of how the drug business has taken hold in Madera County.
The grow was discovered by chance. A 911 call for medical aid led to the discovery, even though the man, identified only as “Jose,” was nowhere to be found when aid arrived.
The plants weren’t ready to harvest yet, but would have been in a few months.
The finding of such a farm isn’t unusual, although it is unusual to find one at such an early stage.
But here’s the kicker: For every one that is found, probably another 50 are never discovered. Even though law enforcement agencies do their best to find and eliminate illegal growing operations, the local illegal marijuana harvests continue.
The legal medical marijuana gardens aren’t going away, either. Even though the city and county both have put restrictions on how big a marijuana garden can be (120 square feet in the county, 100 square feet in the city), we don’t hear much from people who have decided not to grow cannabis because of those rules.
The illegal marijuana farms and gardens are run by gang operators, who can be dangerous people. They usually are armed. They leave huge messes behind once they’ve made their harvests. When narcotics officers do find their grows, not only do the officers have to clean up and destroy the plants, they also have to clean up those messes.
It’s hard to imagine those people are among us, but they are.
Here’s the sad part: They are here because it pays them. They can grow marijuana here, sell it in the state and ship the money south of the border to finance gang operations. Non-medicinal marijuana users willingly finance that crime.
These customers just don’t realize the harm they are doing by supporting organized crime. Or, maybe they do and don’t care.