Deputies arrested 35 people and found $10 million worth of marijuana at an old Calaveras County airport, the sheriff’s department said.
Some of the people who were taken into custody were from El Salvador, Bulgaria, Honduras, Finland and Mexico. Sheriff Rick DiBasilio said they were paid $100 a day to process the marijuana grown at the airport.
The seized marijuana plants will be taken to a landfill and destroyed.
The pot grow operation came under investigation a month ago after people reported a lot of traffic going in and out of the airport. Investigators found that the owners had a permit to grow marijuana.
“They said that they were registered. They paid their $5,000 fee, but again (the owners) are not reading the ordinance,” DiBasilio said. “The ordinance is very specific: you are allowed to grow — that’s it. It has nothing to do with processing, manufacturing, testing, anything.”
When deputies went back to the airport on Thursday, they found a high-tech marijuana processing operation.
DiBasilio said the new marijuana laws in the county are causing problems.
“The issue we are finding is that we have about 800 registered grows in the county, but there is another thousand unregistered grows,” DiBasilio explained.