700+ officers & soldiers assist during Anza Valley pot raids
ANZA — More than 700 officials from about two dozen state and federal law enforcement agencies, along with California Army National Guard soldiers driving heavy equipment and flying in an HH-60 Pavehawk, came together yesterday, Wednesday, June 5 for a day-long enforcement and eradication operation that targeted illegal marijuana cultivation throughout the Anza valley.
During the operation, officials seized 140,877 marijuana plants estimated to have a street value of nearly $190 million, as well as more than 3,000 pounds of processed marijuana. By the end of the day, officials had also seized 17 rifles and 10 handguns, disposed of 70 tons of illegally grown plants, and made eight arrests, with more arrests expected.
LEADING THE RCNS HEADLINES:
“In recent months, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has responded to crimes of homicide, theft, robbery, kidnapping, the theft of utilities, all associated with illegal grows,” Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Albert Martinez reported after the day-long operation concluded.
“Sheriff Bianco heard and responded to the Anza Valley community member’s concerns and complaints … and authorized the Hemet Sheriff’s Station Investigation’s Bureau to research and investigate these illegal marijuana cultivation sites,” Martinez continued.
The operation did not target legal growers, including “numerous businesses” throughout the county that have “obtained permits and operate legal marijuana cultivation sites,” according to Martinez.
“These businesses properly dispose of waste products and follow the legal process,” Martinez explained, saying, “Illegal marijuana cultivation is harmful to the environment and community.”
California Army National Guard soldiers in large vehicles and an HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter assisted in yesterday’s large and coordinated pot raids throughout Anza Valley. ABC7 News image
As yesterday’s joint operation was getting underway, countless mobile command centers and staging areas were set up at a unified command center, which had been established at Anza’s Hamilton High School, at 57430 Mitchell Rd.
From there, officials began at daybreak – fanning out throughout the Anza Valley’s 265 square miles to serve nearly 120 search warrants throughout the unincorporated communities of Anza, Aguanga, and Sage.
Yesterday’s operation resulted in:
– 140,877 marijuana plants (estimated at $189 million – street value) seized
– 3,037 pounds of processed marijuana seized
– 17 rifles and 10 handguns recovered
– 70 tons of plants disposed
– 8 people arrested
As yesterday’s operation was continuing, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco told area media that evidence shows that the majority of marijuana that is being grown in the Anza area and throughout Riverside County is being shipped out of state.
“They get a lot more money for it out of state,” Bianco explained, saying the residents of the Anza Valley have been overrun with illegal grows, something he hopes yesterday’s large -scale operation might change.
“With them comes cartels and gangs and grows that are protecting themselves from thieves and with that comes guns and gunfights and shootings and robberies and everything that comes along with it,” Bianco continued, saying, “This isn’t a victimless crime.”
According to Bianco and other sheriff’s officials, proof of the criminal element that tends to be involved in illegal grow operations came the very night brefore yesterday’s operation, when sheriff’s officials began investigating a murder they say happened at one of the very locations they hit the following morning.
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The following eight individuals were arrested during the operation: 63-year-old, Hien Dinhnguyen, from Hemet, was arrested for marijuana cultivation; 48-year-old, Guoyong Jiang, from Rosemead, was arrested for criminal conspiracy; 61-year-old, Quynn Hoang, from Oakland, was arrested for criminal conspiracy; 44-year-old, Dehvi Zheng, from Anza, was arrested for marijuana cultivation; 64-year-old, Tieu Hoang, from Oakland, was arrested for marijuana cultivation; 66-year-old, Fu Cnang, from Aguanga, was arrested for criminal conspiracy; 31-year-old, Zhenfu Lin, from Anza, was arrested for marijuana cultivation;, and 33-year-old, Felix Hernan, from Mexico was arrested for being a fugitive from justice.
The day after the successful operation, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials thanked more than two dozen agencies that assisted, including San Diego County Sheriff, Orange County Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Kern County Sheriff, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Riverside Police, Hemet Police, Murrieta Police, Cathedral City Police, Riverside County Gang Task Force, PACT Team, Coachella Valley Narcotic Task Force, CA Fish and Game, FBI, US Drug Enforcement Administration, Cal Fire, American Medical Response, Riverside County Animal Services, CA Water Board, Riverside County Code Enforcement, and the Riverside Sheriff’s Association.
The department also thanked the California Army National Guard for the use of their equipment, vehicles, and helicopter in the transportation and destruction of the seized marijuana.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.