Deputies seized about 400,000 marijuana plants from a Santa Maria farm field in recent days in Santa Barbara County’s largest-ever pot bust, officials said.
Investigators showed up at the property in the 2700 block of Telephone Road on Monday with a search warrant, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said in a written statement.
“The number of seized plants at the cultivation site was the largest to date, and eradication efforts spanned over two days,” according to the statement.
Detectives had learned that an illegal pot farm was being cultivated, hidden amid existing farm fields, official said.
The person believed to be responsible for the grow had no state cannabis license, officials said. Investigators also determined the alleged grow operator had allegedly provided false information to county officials in an attempt to get a temporary state license.
The seized plants were in all stages of maturity, sheriff’s officials said.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife helped the Sheriff’s Office with the massive removal operation.
Photos of the site released by sheriff’s officials show deputies cutting down the illicit crop with weed whackers.
The suspected pot farmer was not arrested. Investigators said they planned to turn the case over to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney for consideration of charges including illegal marijuana cultivation and perjury.
The county has legal avenues to allow for cultivating marijuana without running afoul of the law, officials said.