In May, a Ventura County sheriff's helicopter and narcotics detectives found several large marijuana cultivation operations in the Los Padres National Forest, along the north slope of Pine Mountain. Since then, more than 55,000 marijuana plants from seven illegal growing operations have been confiscated. The street value of the seized plants is estimated at $165 million.
During a surveillance operation, two people were seen walking away from a marijuana garden. Jorge Pucnetapi, 28, of Lamont was contacted by detectives and arrested for marijuana cultivation, according to sheriff's officials. The second suspect has not been located.
A short time later, a vehicle arrived in the area. The driver, identified as Alfredo Sanchez, 36, of Taft was found in possession of food and plant fertilizers, officials said. Detectives arrested Sanchez because they believe he was dropping off supplies to those working in the marijuana garden.
Authorities continued their investigation and arrested Jose Figueroa, 23, of Bakersfield at his home after he was seen dropping off workers at the marijuana garden, officials said. A search warrant was served at his home, and detectives said they found a pound of processed marijuana, cultivation equipment and a handgun.