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Detectives with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office seized an estimated 400,000 marijuana plants this week from a grow in Santa Maria, marking the largest ever cannabis-related seizure for the agency.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Bureau served a search warrant at the cultivation site in the 2700 block of Telephone Road. The search warrant stemmed from a criminal investigation involving the illegal cultivation of marijuana that was concealed among existing farm fields, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“During the investigation, a Santa Maria resident was believed to have provided false information to county officials in an attempt to obtain a temporary state cannabis license,” read a portion of a statement from sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover. “Additionally, the subject had no valid state cannabis license and was found to be cultivating approximately 400,000 marijuana plants, which ranged in various growth cycles and maturity.”

Hoover said that due to the size of the alleged illegal marijuana site, detectives were assisted by members of the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The eradication efforts spanned over two days, she said.

Hoover said the Sheriff’s Office will be requesting the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office to review the information for potential charges related to illegal marijuana cultivation and perjury.

“The Sheriff’s Office and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office would like to take this opportunity to remind our community members that Santa Barbara County has developed a county ordinance that provides a path to legally cultivate marijuana within the county,” Hoover said.

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This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at wjacobson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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