Police snuff out multi-million dollar marijuana grow on Mt. Diablo

With the help of volunteers and a keen eye, State Parks Police and Contra Costa County sheriffs raided a marijuana growing operation on Mount Diablo last week, netting between $3 million and $5 million in plants.

During a routine flyover on Wednesday, Sept. 7, sheriffs spotted a group of marijuana plants on the northeast quadrant of the state park. Sheriffs also saw suspects running away, said Roland Gaebert, sector superintendent for California state parks.

"We went out there first thing in the morning, and cleared the area with rangers and Contra Costa County sheriffs and no one was caught," Gaebert said. "Between two and 3,000 mature plants were removed."

State and county officials and 100 rescue volunteers have since destroyed the plants on Saturday, Sept. 10, but the investigation is ongoing. Gaebert said investigators are not sure who was involved or if they are connected to previous growing operations.

"Clearly the message is that there's at least a perceived comfort zone by these folks to grow more and more on public land," he said. "We hope that we can at least contain some of this activity."

This is the second marijuana growing operation to be raided in a local park within the past three months. In July, East Bay Regional Parks police raided an operation in a remote area of Las Trampas Regional Park and confiscated over 3,300 plants worth more than $1 million. Like the Las Trampas grow, suspects at Mount Diablo tapped into the park's natural water system and used spring water to irrigate their plants.

"We have had other grows around Mount Diablo but they were in county jurisdiction," said Jimmy Lee, director of public affairs for the County Sheriff. "I cannot address the question of any increase in marijuana grows in state parks as we do not track that. As far as our cases there has not been any increase."

Although Gaebert could not speculate about trends in marijuana growing operations, he suspected the recent sightings and subsequent busts are a result of the "law of averages."

"There's more successful growing going on than is being discovered. We had a grow last year, there's a grow this year. This is obviously more than we've had in previous years," he said, adding that a longer rainy season might be a reason behind increased growing rates.

While scientists investigate the impact of the operation on Mount Diablo's environment, crews will continue to clean up residue at an unknown cost to the state and county.

"We still have a mess to clean up. There's piping, trash, encampments, food, just a real mess that's going to take quite a cleanup effort," Gaebert said. "We know there's a lot of damage to the natural resources and the extent of that has yet to be determined."


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Posted by Maxine
a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm


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Posted by Angela
a resident of Alamo
on Sep 15, 2011 at 8:20 am

Go to Oakland, Maxine---u will fit in.

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Posted by LMP
a resident of Danville
on Sep 15, 2011 at 8:39 am

Stay here, Maxine. There are lots of us!

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Posted by Sweeties
a resident of Danville
on Sep 15, 2011 at 11:19 am

@ Angela = Why are you sending Maxine to Oakland?

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Posted by Alan
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Potheads are so wonderful for our society. NOT!!!

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Posted by Alan's Neighbor
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm

What a huge waste of taxpayer's money, I would be interested in knowing how much this cost us. I got a kick out of the fact they had "over 100 volunteers" helping to clean things up...hummm, now what would those "volunteers" be doing? I have a feeling more than one of them went home with their pockets stuffed with the devil weed. As for Alan's snarky comment, he fails to realize that each year a growing percentage of Americans favor decriminalization and it is only a matter of time until his generation of voters will be in the minority. I have known "potheads" and "alcoholics" and both have damaged lives, but they are in the minority. Most of us indulge responsibly. Alan wants to make the rules for all of us, unfortunately.

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Posted by collins
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Sep 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Alan and Angela, do you know one another? You might be surprised to find that you are actually in the minority. I'll take someone who is high on weed any day over someone high on alcohol!

I also wonder about the "volunteers"!!! Where does one sign up for this group?

Make it legal and tax it! We taxpayers could use the break!

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Sep 16, 2011 at 7:47 am

As usual on these boards, you folks seem to be straying somewhat from the subject, so let's get some facts straight:
1) The land on which the pot was growing was not the grower's to be using, period. He/she/they were trespassing when they planted their little farm.
2) And this is the more important part, already this year an innocent person was shot by someone running an illegal grow in northern CA. With the money involved, these growers will defend their land with lethal force, something people like Collins and "Alan's neighbor" seem to ignore.
3) Much of the pot grown on these illegal plots is contaminated with herbicides, so by all means smoke up. But you don't want your teenagers doing it.
4) The growers are criminals. This is a separate issue from those smoking pot.

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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Danville
on Sep 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

Derek, since you have so successfully re focused this thread back to topic, I thought I would share that the volunteers were Contra Costa County Search and Rescue Volunteers. Dedicated folks who take time out of their lives and commit to rigorous, ongoing training to support the sheriff's department in many aspects involving community safety. All joking aside - this was hard work for them, they take their responsibility seriously and we are so lucky to have them.

Want to join up? Call the Sherriff's Department for info!

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Posted by Alan's Neighbor
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm are absolutely correct, enterprises of this sort probably have no place on Mt. Diablo but I doubt a grower is going to kill Joe Hiker from Rossmore and think that will save his patch, I believe rather the grower would flee, as these growers obviously did. I think the record will show most fatalities occur in California when the sheriffs shoot the growers while they are fleeing. Most of us in Blackhawk have 2 or 3 pots (no pun intended) growing in our backyard and our gardeners know to leave those plants alone. It's kind of fun because it's the only shrub I get to trim on my whole lot! Oh, and one of our neighbors makes his own beer (which is pretty good) and my other neighbor (a plastic surgeon) owns 5 acres in Napa and grows grapes...we have avoided all regulation and enjoy the freedom from taxation. Lastly, one of my friends recently retired and decided to be a SAR volunteer and he says he always welcomes a call at 2:00 A.M. to help find a lost hiker, but would not tramp around Mt. Diablo picking up sprinkler pipe.

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Posted by Alamo Dad
a resident of Alamo
on Sep 19, 2011 at 8:44 am

@Alan's Neighbor: So 'most' people in Blackhawk (over half) have pot plants growing in their backyard which they cultivate themselves? Therefore, at least the way the law is written now, 'most' of the people in Blackhawk are felons, and as a pot plant growing in a container in your yard is a felony in progress, a search warrant is not necessary to enter your premises and search. Good to know these things.

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Sep 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Indeed Alamo Dad. Who would have ever thought those clean-living Black-Hawkian's were stoners? It brings a smile to my face!
Seriously, I do think it's way past time to legalize it fully, which might cut down substantially on illegal plots. One other thing the growers of large illicit farms often do is pull water out of small streams, which also harms the adjacent environment - along with runoff from the herbicide use I mentioned before.

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Posted by Alan's Neighbor
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Achtung!!...Alamo Dad is now on alert...."nice to know about felons"...if anyone hears helicopters we will all go to the bunker per the plan....

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Sep 19, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Marijuana has been used in various civilizations for thousands of years. So has alcohol, magic mushrooms, chocolate, coffee, tea, and many other substances that alter consciousness. It might be better to focus energy on education, technology, manufacturing and other areas that will help make our people and nation more prosperous and globally competitive.

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