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$1M in pot found in rental property, 8 arrested

California authorities have seized some 80 pounds of marijuana after raiding a home in the Central Valley. The occupants of the residence are facing charges for drug crimes in connection with the incident, which officers say yielded an estimated $1 million in processed pot alone.

Official reports allege that the defendants were part of an organized drug ring with ties to a Mexican cartel. They have accused the eight men of turning a rental property into a drug-processing facility that had been operating for several months. In addition, the men admitted that they never resided inside the home, but instead used it as a drop-off point for those who were assigned to process the plants.

Authorities say it is possible that some of the defendants were conscripted into processing or growing the marijuana; known cases exist of immigrants who sought work as farmers but were instead transported to marijuana groves by unscrupulous individuals. The defendants in this case range in age from 23 to 32, with at least three hailing from Sanger, California. All of the men are facing felony narcotics charges. They are all being held by immigration authorities for questioning about their legal status in the country.

Area officials say the marijuana problem has become far more severe since medical marijuana provisions were approved in the state. In fact, illegal marijuana operations are on the rise since those laws were promulgated. Experts cite the fact that Madera County authorities seized 17 football-field sized marijuana groves earlier in the year.

The defendants in this case are facing both drug charges and immigration violations, as reported by local news sources. Even though they are suspected of being involved in international drug operations, they could be victims of corrupt foreign nationals who lured them into growing and distributing these drugs. All of the defendants deserve fair criminal proceedings in the U.S. court system before they are deported or imprisoned.

Source: www.latimes.com, "$1 million in marijuana found in Central Valley drug den" Angel Jennings, Sep. 26, 2013

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