$23 million in illegal marijuana eradicated in San Mateo County

A multi-agency San Mateo County law enforcement effort eradicated illegally grown marijuana plants with an estimated street value of about $23 million over the last two months, police said.

Four suspects were arrested on suspicion of crimes related to illegal cultivation of marijuana in the Mid-Peninsula Open Space Preserve near Devil's Canyon west of Highway 35, according to Commander Saul Lopez of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force.

Joaquin Sanchez, 38, of Redwood City, Joel Ochoa Sanchez, 32, also of Redwood City, Juan Farias Galeana, 28, of Michoacan, Mexico and Jose Antonio Mendoza, 26, also of Michoacan, Mexico, were arrested and booked at the Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City, Lopez said.

The multi-agency effort, dubbed the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, also involved the California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, the San Francisco Water Department, the Mid-Peninsula Open Public Space Preserve, the U.S. Department of Forestry and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lopez said.

According to Lopez, the marijuana grow sites were well-hidden on the properties and the plants ranged in height from 2-10 feet, and used sophisticated irrigation systems to tap into available water sources.