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Illegal marijuana busts include eight from Ceres
• $100 million in street value cannabis seized across county
pot greenhouse
Greenhouses like this one were raided last week with cannabis plants seized and destroyed.

Eight Ceres residents and one from Keyes were arrested in the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department’s week-long joint marijuana eradication operation which took place from May 31 to June 4.

Seized was an estimated $100 million worth of marijuana if sold on the streets.

The operation was spearheaded by the Sheriff’s Office Community Resource Unit (CRU), which is comprised of a supervising sergeant and 11 sheriff’s deputies, and targeted over 60 confirmed outdoor and indoor illicit marijuana grows throughout the county.

A total of 74,088 marijuana plants were seized along with 1,687 pounds of fully processed marijuana plants. Also taken in raids were 46 firearms and $172,347 in cash.

Of the 83 persons arrested, booked or issued citations for various law violations, were: Roy Franklin Bilyeu, 53, of    Keyes; and Ceres residents Francisco Javier Reyes Garcia, 43; Emilio Jose Melara, 32; Jose DeJesus Rivera, 25; Carlos Alberto Madrigal, 25; Isidro Rivera, 21; Homero Madrigal 56; Marco Antonio Mendoza, 19; and Edgar Oscar Vasquez., 29.

The raids also led to power being shut off at 26 locations, 16 code enforcement referrals made to the cities and county, and 13 warrants resulted in Child or Adult Protective Services referrals for unsafe living conditions where guardians were arrested for endangering children.  

Authorities also encountered an out-of-compliance registered sex offender in the Airport District Tuesday afternoon who was also taken into custody.

The Sheriff’s Department said that illegal marijuana grows are unsafe for many reasons and impose odor and traffic nuisances on neighbors.

“Oftentimes, they are the targets of violent, take-over style home invasions where people are armed with weapons,” said a press release authored by Sgt. Luke Schwartz. “Shootings, robberies, aggravated assaults, kidnappings and burglaries are some of the unintended victimization consequences for those trying to profit from the sales of black-market marijuana.”

The state and the county have specific guidelines, tracking mechanisms, revenue collection means, and laws which must be followed for a legitimate or regulated business to engage in the commerce of legalized marijuana.  Each of these 64 locations which were targeted last week chose to ignore those mandates.

“We truly appreciate the assistance from all allied agencies who came together in order to make this operation a tremendous success,” said Sheriff Jeff Dirkse. “The community can rest assured we are dedicated to strongly regulating and enforcing all black market, cannabis-related laws.”