Santa Barbara Sheriff’s detectives, U.S. Forest Service officials, and National Guard personnel found and removed more than 7,000 marijuana plants in Romero Canyon above Montecito during an eradication operation last week. Two separate groves located a few miles apart were spotted from the air by deputies riding in the Air Support Unit’s Copter 2.
Early Friday morning, detectives observed one unarmed suspect and heard another when they set out on foot to eradicate the second of the two discovered groves. Both suspects fled the area and Copter 2 was unable to locate them. In addition to the plants, authorities found processed marijuana at the second location.
Copter 2 also removed 1,300 pounds of trash, including food, rat poison, a car battery, propane tanks, clothing, and a drip line. The waste and illegal marijuana groves are responsible for “bringing in toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment and wildlife,” according to a written statement from Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover. Officials continue to investigate the grows and look for suspects, she said.