Man Reportedly Made to Tend Marijuana to Pay off Debt

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coddington way marijuana bust

Modesto Police found these plants inside a home, a man tending them said he was made to work there.
Courtesy: Modesto Police


A man who says he was made to tend to an illegal marijuana grow to pay off a debt is under arrest.

Neighbors of the home on the east side of Modesto told police was strange behavior they saw. The home is along Codington Way, across the street from Peter Johansen High School.

Investigators kept an eye on the home, and served a search warrant Thursday. Inside they found more than 660 plants, with an estimated street value of almost $2 million.

The man inside the home, 25-year-old Fabian Ballesteros-Mendoza, was arrested for cultivation of marijuana and theft of power. The house was wired to steal electricity.

mendoza, fabian

Fabian Mendoza was arrested at a home where officers found an illegal marijuana grow.
Courtesy: Modesto Police

“Fabian said he was brought to this house to tend to the grow. He said he did not know the owners of the house of who he was working for. It appears he may have been working off a debt for being brought into the United States,” said Sergeant Kelly Rea, with the Modesto Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Officers say it is common practice, where someone pays to be smuggled into the country and then must tend to illegal grows until the debt is paid off.

The home on Codington Way reportedly had the ability to grow four harvests a year, which could have brought in about $8 million.

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1 Comment

  • malcolmkyle

    When we regulate something we do NOT automatically condone it's use; the regulations concerning alcohol and tobacco are there to protect us from the vast increase in criminality that would otherwise exist if these substances were prohibited.

    A regulated and licensed distribution network for all mind altering substances would put responsible adult supervision in between children and premature access to drug distribution outlets (illegal street dealers). Regulated and licensed distribution would reflect and respect society's values, thus preventing children obtaining easy access to these substances. What we need is legalized regulation. What we have now, due to prohibition, is a non-regulated black market to which everybody has access and where all the profits go to organized crime and terrorists.