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Westmoreland Sheriff’s report

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Pot busts total $63M following Sept. 22 raid

6,723 plants found in latest marijana grow in Richmond County
Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 14 law enforcement authorities seized and destroyed more than 14,000 marijuana plants in the Farnham and Newland areas of Richmond County. Last week authorities found another 6,723 marijuana plants growing in the Foneswood area.
According to Richmond County Sheriff Douglas A. Bryant, that Sheriff’s Office was assisted last Wednesday by the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police in    “random air searches of locations in the county for marijuana grow operations.

 

 

“This office is being proactive in searching for the illegal grow operations due to the large amounts of marijuana already seized in this county,   “ Bryant said.
“During the search, plots were discovered in the Foneswood area of the county. Units from the Richmond, Northumberland, Lancaster and King George county sheriff’s offices along with Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia State Police, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Corrections responded to secure the site.
“This grow site was nearly identical to the sites found last month which contained 6,138 plants at one location and 8,239 plants at the other. This site near Foneswood contained 6,723 marijuana plants with a street value of over $20 million. As of this date the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has seized 21,100 marijuana plants with a street value of over $63 million.   “
While Farnham is situated in the far southwest of rural Richmond County, the marijuana growing areas in the vicinity of Foneswood and Newland are located in the northeast near the Westmoreland County line, a short distance from the Town of Montross incorporated limits. To date there have been no 2010 Westmoreland Sheriff’s Office reports of identified marijuana growing operations.
August police activities resulted in the arrest of one illegal immigrant and respective law enforcement agencies’ conclusion that a violent Mexican drug cartel may be working on Virginia’s Northern Neck.
During last month’s police surveillance activities, law enforcement officers observed two Hispanic males tending a marijuana plot near the Westmoreland County line.
“When law enforcement officers approached them, they fled the area,   “ Sheriff Bryant stated. One suspect, an illegal immigrant identified as Jamie Ramirez-Duarte, was apprehended in Westmoreland County and is awaiting trial in the Northern Neck Regional Jail.  The man was charged with the manufacture of marijuana and possession of more than 5 pounds of the illegal substance.
According to Sheriff Bryant, DEA officers have advised that the marijuana cultivation activities uncovered in Richmond County    “are identical to what is occurring in California.
“Investigation found that a lot of work had been conducted on this property, including a primitive irrigation system,   “ he said when detailing the previous month’s discoveries. The current find reflected the same characteristics, prompting the Richmond County Sheriff to ask the local hunters to assist the law enforcement authorities.
“Since hunting season is approaching, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office [is asking] citizens to keep an eye out for possible grow operations in the woods, “Sheriff Bryant related.
“Some of the items you may see are irrigation hoses, tents and manmade ponds.”
One month ago Sheriff Bryant reported that the arrested suspect, Ramirez-Duarte, had “advised that the Los Zetas drug cartel out of Mexico threatened that if he did not attend to the marijuana plants, they would execute his family.   “ That information has not been definitively confirmed by the authorities.
Ramirez-Duarte had reportedly been living in a tent on the China Hill Road marijuana grow site when he was apprehended Aug. 12.

 

Betsy Ficklin

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