$37.6 Million Marijuana Farm Found within Tejon Ranch Boundaries

By Patric Hedlund

(FRAZIER PARK, July 13, 2009 3 p.m.)—Kern County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Michael Whorf and Tejon Ranch Corporation V.P. of Communications Barry Zoeller have confirmed that the $37.6 million marijuana plot seized on Friday, July 10 is within the boundaries of Tejon Ranch.

"It is a very rugged area, and we’re not certain yet whether it is actually on our property or on one of the ‘inholdings,’" Zoeller said.["Inholdings" are privately held parcels owned by second parties within the 270,000 acre boundaries of Tejon Ranch.]

Zoeller confirmed that Tejon Ranch Corporation security personnel and hunting guides helped law enforcement personnel access the area. According to law enforcement sources, aerial surveillance revealed the marijuana plot. Access from the ground "is very difficult" Whorf and Zoeller agreed.

Three wildfires were fought on ranch property from the end of June to the begining of July, with significant aerial support. It is speculated that the flyovers at that time may have contributed to the sighting of the marijuana farm.Early reports said that 9,400 plants were apprehended.

About eight "wildland" marijuana farms have been located in Kern County mountains this year, Whorf said.

Additional reports will be filed here as they are available.

(FRAZIER PARK, July 11, 2009 3 p.m.)—According to a dispatch circulated by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, deputies assigned to the Major Violators Unit executed a search warrant on private property "in a remote area of the Southern Kern County Mountains" on Friday, July 10.

The deputies were assisted by officers of the Bureau of Land Management, DEA, and HIDTA (the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program that coordinates drug control efforts among local, state, and federal law enforcement—a special drug enforcement team comprised of officers from the FBI, Kern County Sheriffs and DEA).

The dispatch explains:
"Once at the location, deputies saw three suspects who were clipping marijuana buds from plants. The suspects fled into the forest before deputies could get close enough to apprehend them. Officers seized approximately ten pounds of processed marijuana from the area where the suspects initially fled. Deputies located a campsite, one large marijuana garden and two smaller marijuana gardens. Approximately 9,400 Marijuana plants were seized, with an estimated street value of $37,600,000. Due to the remoteness of this area, the Marijuana plants were flown out of the garden utilizing the Kern County Sheriff’s Office helicopter."

The dispatch said the investigation of this case is ongoing. The Mountain Enterprise will report more details on this matter as they become available.

This is part of the July 10, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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