Contributed by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office:
For three days last week the Sheriff's Office MET team and several State Department of Fish and Game wardens removed miles of black plastic irrigation tubing, hauled out four tons of trash and destroyed the infrastructure of unlawful marijuana gardens along Pacheco Pass Highway, Gilroy Hot Springs Road, Croy Road, Casa Loma Road, and in areas located within Henry Coe State Park.
In total, 91,403 plants were eradicated by the team in 2012, totaling 500 pounds of marijuana from 22 outdoor grows and seven indoor grows.
The MET team used the assistance of helicopters to remove the tons of garbage such as propane tanks, fertilizers, car batteries, food wrappers, pesticides, camping supplies,a nd gardening equipment from the sites. They even removed a Honda muffler on the mountain side a mile west of the Gilroy Hot Springs Bridge that was most likely being used to muffle the sounds of a generator.
The deputies were short hauled into eight different sites over the three days by hanging from the helicopter at the end of a 100-foot long line and placed directly where they need to be. This is a common method used which allows for less time hiking into the site and easier removal of the garbage, which would otherwise take days to remove.
A major benefit of these types of operations is the removal of the pollutants that would otherwise be allowed to pass into the often surrounding creeks and tributaries. Removing the garden infrastructure also deters the unlawful marijuana cultivators from returning to the sites and is a further reminder that the Sheriff’s MET team is always out enforcing unlawful marijuana cultivation laws.
"It's amazing just how much damage the unlawful marijuana cultivators cause to thevenvironment, and the amount of trash they bring to these pristine locations in our county," said Detective Puente. "As an avid outdoorsman it saddens me to think of the amount of time it will take for these areas to fully recover."