A pot farm in the wilderness west of Lone Pine has led investigators to a meth lab in Southern California.
Many of the details surrounding this week’s raid on the meth lab are being withheld, but officials said it stemmed from agents with the Inyo Narcotics Enforcement Team and U.S. Forest Service serving multiple search warrants in Southern California as part of their investigation into the Hogback Creek marijuana cultivation site in Inyo County that was itself raided last week.
According to Inyo Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Carma Roper, INET and USFS agents had been investigating three residences in particular “for several months” in an effort to connect their occupants to “illegal activity and marijuana cultivation sites on federal lands in Inyo County.”
INET and USFS were assisted in serving the warrants by agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and agents from the local law enforcement jurisdiction. INET Commander Juan Martinez said he is withholding the names of those arrested in the recent raids, the location of the homes and the identity of the Southern California law enforcement agency in an effort to preserve the integrity of a sensitive investigation, which has been turned over to the local agencies in Southern California, who will continue to pursue leads.
For the raids this week, teams of agents were created and assigned specific houses in order to coordinate the warrant services at the exact same time, Roper said.
“A search of one residence resulted in the arrest of a suspect connected to an Inyo County marijuana cultivation site,” she said. “A search of a second residence resulted in the seizure of more than 400 marijuana plants from an illegal backyard grow and the arrest of two suspects.”
Throughout the month-long investigation, Martinez said INET and USFS agents paid close attention to a third residence “with the most traffic that was connected to the activity in Inyo County.”
When agents searched that residence, according to Roper, they discovered a methamphetamine lab.
INET agents also seized more than $11,000 in cash, more than five firearms (one of which was loaded and stolen), several vials of steroids, more than two pounds of marijuana, more than two pounds of crystal methamphetamine and about 15 pounds of liquid methamphetamine, Roper reported.
Three suspects who were present inside the residence at the time of the warrant service were arrested.
The residence also required the response of a hazmat team specializing in the cleanup and processing of meth labs and the response of social services counselors specializing in drug- endangered children cases.
“All of the suspects arrested and evidence seized was handed over to agents with the local law enforcement jurisdiction for local prosecution,” Martinez said, adding that none of those who were arrested were residents of Inyo or Mono counties.