Police seize $25 million worth of marijuana plants found near Diamond Bar, California community center
View attachment 9345 Police on Wednesday pulled up 7,621 marijuana plants growing in Sycamore Canyon just 300 feet from a residential neighborhood, officials said. The plants were valued at about $25 million.
The uncovering of the sophisticated outdoor pot farm, found in the steep canyon east of Diamond Bar Boulevard and north of Grand Avenue, was the largest pot bust in the city's 20-year history.
"This is not something you normally see," said Commander James Lopez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "This sophisticated of a grow so close to a residential neighborhood is unusual."
Police discovered the pot farm area Tuesday and organized pulled the plants Wednesday, according to Captain David Halm of the Walnut/Diamond Bar Sheriff's Station.
Francisco Rios , 33, of Santa Ana and Brigido Ambriz , 31, of Costa Mesa were arrested near the pot farm around 5 a.m. Tuesday. The pair have been charged with possession of a loaded and concealed fire arm. Both are being held on $35,000 bail. Detectives believe Rios and Ambriz are connected to the pot farm.
"They were involved in some fashion with this grow," said Lt. Paul Denney of the sheriff's Narcotics Bureau. "I don't know if they will be charged. It depends on what type of evidence we have from the site."
Police are investigating whether more suspects are involved, officials said. Police uncovered the farm after a month-long investigation, according to Lt. Phil Adner of the Sheriff's Narcotics Bureau. Deputies would not disclose how they found out about the farm.
It was hidden with overgrown vegetation and was not visible from the air. It was near a nature trail but hikers would most likely not venture down the slope into the grow area, Adner said.
The canyon is so steep, officers used a long net that hung from a helicopter to airlift the almost-mature plants from the canyon to the Diamond Bar Center parking lot. From there, narcotics detectives spent six hours sorting through what they found in the canyon, including the pot, irrigation equipment, camping items and a propane tank for nearly six hours.
Growers were likely living near the marijuana farm, and they used a nearby creek to irrigate the plants, officials said. The growing season for marijuana is typically between April and September, according to Adner. The Sheriffs Department has seized more than 100,000 marijuana plants this year.
Earlier this month, the sheriff's department busted up a 4,400 plant pot farm inside a Hacienda Heights home in a gated community. It was valued between $5 million and $8 million. In March, police found 12,000 small non-mature marijuana plants growing in Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park near Hacienda Heights.
Several years ago, police busted a Diamond Bar pot farm in an area of the canyon close to Wednesday's farm, Halm said. "We rehabbed the area so it couldn't be done again," Halm said. "We thought we took care of it the first time. Now we will have to close the area off."
By Amanda Baumfeld, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/24/2009 08:01:15 AM PDT