Man Reportedly Made to Tend Marijuana to Pay off Debt
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.
“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.