BUTTE COUNTY —
Over the last few weeks, the Butte County Special Enforcement Unit investigated a large scale commercial marijuana growing operation near Bear Lake at Big Chico Creek.
The investigation led them to believe the marijuana grow was connected to a residence off Musty Buck Road. The home was being used as a shelter and marijuana processing area.
When the warrant was served, at least three people fled out the back of the home and into the forest.
One suspect, 42-year-old Silvano Gonzalez-Mendoza, was found and caught by a California Fish and Wildlife Officer and his K9. The suspect was carrying an AK-47 assault rifle with a high capacity magazine.
When they searched the marijuana grow site they found 2,137 plants. It looked as though the cultivators had already harvested this year and the current plants were for October.
The plants were hidden beneath a canopy of bushes and other vegetation to avoid detection.
The cultivators also diverted the normal flow of the creek. The creeks would normally flow into Big Chico Creek but, the water was now being contaminated by the fertilizer before flowing into Big Chico Creek, a salmon spawning creek.
A search of the residence revealed 172 pounds of marijuana shake and a fully automatic AR-15 with a 100 round detachable drum, an AR-15 with a scope, a 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun with four rounds of 00 buck along with several other firearms.
As SWAT was leaving, they noticed a man entering the property in a vehicle. Juan Santiago-Monjaraz, 31, was determined to be involved in the operation and was taken into custody.
Gonzalez-Mendoza and Santiago-Monjaraz were taken to the Butte County Jail and charged with multiple marijuana and weapon charges.
Gonzalez-Mendoza’s bail has been set at $203,000 and Santiago-Monjaraz’s bail is set at $100,000.