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Marijuana found in Denair almond orchard

POSTED July 9, 2013 5:28 p.m.

Three men are under arrest on allegations they were cultivating acres of marijuana in a Denair orchard, unbeknownst to the property owners.

More than 38,000 marijuana plants were seized and eradicated over two days in Denair. The street value of the marijuana was approximately $200,000, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

On Wednesday, agents from Stanislaus Drug Enforcement, Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, California Multi-jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team, Federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Homeland Security located a large marijuana grow in 1,200 acres of almond trees in the area of Monte Vista Avenue and Hall Road, east of Denair.

During the first raid agents found more than 15,000 marijuana plants. In the process they also discovered a second crop of marijuana growing in the same orchard. That crop of more than 23,000 plants was destroyed Tuesday.

Arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana were: Jesus Meraz Alvarez, 56, of Washington; Elian Mendoza Gallardo, 31, a transient; and Mendoza Jesus Torres, 29, a transient.

The property owners were contacted and were unaware that the suspects had set up camps in the middle of their orchards and were growing the marijuana, the sheriff’s department reported.

The investigation into the growing operation remains open.

Anyone with information about the marijuana operation is asked to call the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency at 558-6300. Callers can also contact Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters can also e-mail tips at http://www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers, or send information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Type “TIP704” along with the message.

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