Lockwood Deputy Chases Down Suspect near Pot Farm

  • Jorge Talavera was arrested for felony evading and is being investigated for conspiracy to cultivate marijuana in Lockwood Valley.

    Jorge Talavera was arrested for felony evading and is being investigated for conspiracy to cultivate marijuana in Lockwood Valley.

By Gary Meyer

Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputy William Hollowell was returning to his Lockwood Valley substation after helping with a marijuana eradication operation at 4 a.m. on July 14. He spotted a vehicle traveling about 80 miles per hour, southbound on Highway 33, between Ojai and Lockwood Valley Road, near Pine Mountain Summit.

Hollowell turned around and gave chase.

“I attempted to initiate a traffic stop,” Hollowell told The Mountain Enterprise. “He failed to yield and was crossing the double yellow line, reaching speeds of around 80 miles per hour.”

After eluding the sheriff for about seven miles, the driver pulled over near Wolf’s Grill [a.k.a. Pine Mountain Inn], then “jumped out and ran into the brush. I ran and caught up to him. A struggle ensued and I was able to handcuff him and walk him back to the roadway,” Hollowell said.

According to the deputy, the suspect gave a false name as he was arrested for felony evading, resisting arrest and driving on a suspended license. His real name, according to sheriff’ department records, is Jorge Talavera, 47 of Bakersfield. Hollowell said he has prior convictions on weapons charges.

Investigators discovered two 150-pound duffel bags in the tan-colored, late model GMC pickup truck driven by Talavera. The bags contained food and fertilizer.

After his arrest, Talavera was turned over to narcotics officers who began questioning him. He reportedly revealed that he had been paid $500 to deliver food and supplies to marijuana farm workers. Later that morning a sheriff’s helicopter crew spotted a pot farm near the place where Talavera had run from his vehicle.

Hollowell said one of these types of duffel bags, full of supplies, can keep farm workers going for a month. Narcotics investigators are now investigating Talavera for conspiracy to cultivate marijuana.

Talavera was released without bail, according to Ventura County court records, which also indicate that Talavera failed to appear for a July 21 court appearance on the felony charges. A warrant was issued for his arrest on $20,000 bail.

Law enforcement seized a record-breaking 110,000 marijuana plants in the Los Padres National Forest during 2009, almost double the 2008 seizures.

Over 71,000 plants have already been seized as the 2010 growing season is more than half over, according to law enforcement officials. Nineteen thousand plants were found in Lockwood Valley during June.

Hollowell said he wants to convey with a deadly serious message: “There are many of these marijuana farms being found in the forest areas. The people who work the farms are usually armed. If they become aware they have been spotted by a citizen, it could be a very dangerous situation,” he said.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department urges anyone who believes they have stumbled upon a marijuana farm in the forest to get out as quickly and quietly as possible, then call law enforcement.

This is part of the July 30, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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