Over 5,000 Marijuana Plants Found in San Bernardino County; 14 Arrested

Fourteen people were arrested and 5,557 marijuana plants were seized on Aug. 20 and 21, 2014. (Credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

Fourteen people were arrested and 5,557 marijuana plants were seized on Aug. 20 and 21, 2014. (Credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

Sheriff’s deputies have seized over 5,000 marijuana plants and multiple firearms, and arrested 14 people in San Bernardino County, officials stated Friday.

A marijuana enforcement team served nine search warrants Wednesday and Thursday for multiple residential properties in unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County; including Joshua Tree, Landers, Bloomington and Helendale.

The locations had large-scale outdoor marijuana cultivations that did not comply with California’s medical marijuana laws, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department news release stated.

Investigators seized 5,557 marijuana plants, 171.5 pounds of processed marijuana, a “large quantity” of Hydrocodone pills, and four firearms; including two sawed-off shotguns, one with the serial number removed.

The large amount of marijuana seized suggested it was a strictly for-profit operation, the department stated.

Outdoor marijuana cultivation is illegal in San Bernardino County, and the plants seized were found growing in unsecured area that was fenced in, commonly referred to as “plywood grows.”

Multiple suspects provided fake medical marijuana recommendations in an effort to show the operation was legal, the news release stated.

Four Los Angeles residents were arrested on suspicion of being part of the operation; 41-year-old Carlos Gonzales, 19-year-old Angie Colindrez, 48-year-old Manuel Perez and 39-year-old Andres Marquez.

Other people arrested were 60-year-old Jose Rascon from Bloomington, 55-year-old Thonekeo Sounannavong of Fresno, 46-year-old Alex Aphayboun of Sacramento, 38-year-old Xayadeth Kayavong of Fresno, 35-year-old Athith Kayavong of Fresno, 52-year-old Phouthone Khaithianthong of Porterville, 58-year-old Lee Callan of Landers, 50-year-old Aquilino Villasenor of Mexico, 44-year-old Roberto Zavala of Bakersfield, and 21-year-old Manuel Madrigal-Castillo of Mexico.