Over the course of two days last week at four locations, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) eradicated 958 growing marijuana plants and 423 pounds of processed marijuana with an estimated value exceeding $724,000.

On Oct. 6, the MET served a search warrant for illegal marijuana cultivation in the 100 block of South Railroad Flat Road in Rail Road Flat, where deputies located and seized 205 growing marijuana plants and 41 pounds of processed marijuana with an estimated value exceeding $172,000.

In addition, one firearm with its serial numbers illegally removed was located and seized. This was the fourth time that the site has been eradicated since 2017.

David Villalobos Origel, 42, and Jose Delacruz, 29, were arrested at the scene after one suspect attempted to flee on foot. Both were charged with illegal marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana for sale, and conspiracy to commit crime.

Delacruz was also charged with maintaining a premises for sales of a controlled substance, resisting/obstructing a peace officer, and altering a firearm’s identifying mark.

On Oct. 8, deputies served a search warrant in the 700 block of Sourdough Road in West Point, where 87 growing marijuana plants with a value estimated to exceed $60,000 were located and seized.

“Code Compliance was called to the residence, and subsequently red-tagged the structure due to its completely sub-standard and uninhabitable living condition,” a press release from the sheriff’s office reads. “An 8-year-old juvenile was discovered to be living in the residence. Due to the obvious dangers, which included vermin infestation, lack of running water, inappropriate disposal of human waste, uncovered and bare electrical wiring, and a generator placed indoors, the child was placed in protective custody by Child Protective Services.”

Tyson Saetern, 52, and Sheng Thao, 40, both of Sacramento, were arrested and charged with illegal marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana for sale, conspiracy to commit a crime, maintaining a premises for sales of a controlled substance, and cruelty or neglect of a child with potential for great bodily harm or death.

Also on Oct. 8, deputies served a search warrant and seized 105 growing marijuana plants and 382 pounds of processed marijuana with an estimated value exceeding $100,000 while serving a search warrant in the 200 block of Black Oak Drive in Rail Road Flat. No suspects were located at the site, but the operation is believed to be connected to the illegal cultivation site on Sourdough Road.

The same day, a search warrant was served in the 1000 block of Doe Road in Rail Road Flat, where deputies seized 561 growing marijuana plants with an estimated value exceeding $392,000. The plants were found growing both indoors and outdoors, with the residence and garage converted for cultivation purposes. No suspects were located, but extensive evidence was collected at the site.

Investigations are ongoing.

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Reporter

Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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