SPECIAL REPORT: Illegal Drug Raids in Butte County

Aug 28, 2013 6:17 PM

It's harvest time for illegal marijuana growers in the north state. It's also the busiest time of year for drug enforcement agents. In a multi-agency operation, law enforcement officers are conducting an early morning raid in the Plumas National Forest, high above Berry Creek in southern Butte County. They've been tipped off on the illegal operation after a search from the air. The teams move in and split up, armed with assault rifles, radios, and accompanied by two K-9s named Ice and Solo. The agents sneak up on the split-level camp and confront the growers, who take off on foot. One suspect drops a gun, and is bitten on the arm by Ice, who won't let go. The two fall over a small cliff, and the man is arrested with a severe bite mark. He's brought back to the staging area and given medical aid.
Meanwhile, Ice begins chasing after a second man who is bitten on the arm and stopped. Once handcuffed, he is asked in Spanish for details about the third pot farmer who has gotten away. Solo chases after him, and a short time later, some of the officers hear screaming, and they assume Solo has latched onto him and won't let go. They find a bloody shirt, and call out to the dog. The suspect manages to get away, ignoring their calls in Spanish to surrender and receive medical aid.
The officers head back to disassemble the marijuana farm. They must clean up the environmental hazards, including pesticides and insecticides, and an open flame grill and propane tank just inches from dry brush and trees. They must also count the number of marijuana plants, because the suspects will be charged according to the number of plants located. Investigators say Mexican drug cartels use northern California's fertile soil on federal forest land to grow plants, well-hidden from populated areas.
The Butte County Sheriff's Office says Adrian Magana-Figueroa, 26 of Sacramento has been arrested in the raid. Figueroa is a suspected Sureno gang member and a Mexican citizen from Michoacán, Mexico. Alfredo Uriel Valencia-Mendoza, 30, of Mexico has also been arrested. The men have been charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and being armed in the commission of a felony.


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