The Napa Special Investigations Bureau and Napa County Sheriff's Office detectives eradicated nearly 14,000 marijuana plants at an illegal grow site Tuesday in northern Napa County near the Lake County line.
The 13,900 plants growing in three large gardens have a value of $13.9 million upon reaching maturity, NSIB Lt. Gary Pitkin said.
Narcotics agents and sheriff's detectives found a campsite concealed in thick brush on a mountainside in the 5000 block of Lake County Highway, Pitkin said.
The area had been thinned of natural vegetation and planted with marijuana, using drip lines and pesticides, Pitkin said.
Agents found two 55-gallon drums filled with food supplies in a campsite with a tent and four sleeping bags. There were two burning candles and three statues with the image of Santa Muerte, the patron saint of death that drug traffickers use to protect them from enemies and law enforcement, Pitkin said.
Agents also found a carving in a tree that made reference to Michoacan, Mexico. Past investigations by the Napa Special Investigations Bureau show marijuana grown in Napa County by drug trafficking organizations is often exported across the country, Pitkin said.
NSIB agents flew over northern Napa County during the week of May 30 looking for clandestine marijuana growing operations. The flights are funded with Drug Enforcement Administration money, Pitkin said.
Pitkin said law enforcement agencies receive complaints every year from residents, vintners, hikers and hunters about armed trespassers stealing water for illegal growing operations.
The NSIB has set up a drug hotline for complaints about illegal grows at (707) 224-3784. Callers may remain anonymous.
No arrests were made during the eradication and the investigation is continuing, Pitkin said.
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