Score another one for the men in brown. The San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Narcotic Unit discovered and removed 815 marijuana plants from a grove in the Santa Maria River bed near the county line on Sept. 27. Earlier this month, detectives seized 5,777 pot plants from an illegal grove on the Hearst Ranch Property four miles southeast of the castle. No arrests were made in either case.
The Sheriff's Department suspects that foreign drug cartels may be responsible for the increase in local marijuana growth.
"Our theory is a large influx of Mexican nationals are coming into grow and sell the marijuana," said SLO Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Hascall. "The money is funneled back into Mexico for manufacturing methamphetamine."
The Sheriff's Department has eradicated around 32,000 plants valued at approximately $8 million since August. They've discovered marijuana groves in rural areas throughout the county.
"We do this every year during harvest season: fly-overs searching for gardens," Hascall said. "We are headed for a record year."