A raid on a large-scale marijuana grow site last spring led to a grand jury indictment Monday in Tulare County Superior Court.
The April raid led to the arrest of 31 individuals of Laotian descent and the seizure of 2,600 pounds of partially processed marijuana, worth an estimated street value of over $2.6 million, and 49 pounds of fully processed marijuana, worth a projected $50,000.
Deputies counted more than 12,000 marijuana plants.
Three firearms were also seized, along with $14,362 in cash; and 13 dogs in poor condition were taken away from the site by animal control, according to sheriff officials.
Twenty-nine of the 31 individuals were indicted by the grand jury, which convened last week to determine if charges should be sought.
Sixty personnel from multiple agencies served a search warrant at a property in the 1900 block of Road 112 after a sheriff’s airplane in late January found the 60-acre property, lined with numerous green houses, suspicious. It was determined marijuana was being grown at the site.
Along 10 acres of the property, officials also found more than 49 “nursery-style” green houses filled with marijuana plants up to 6-feet in height, Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said at the time.
Only a few of the suspects are believed to be county residents, with the majority having Fresno addresses. Some though are from as far away as Merced, Long Beach and Philadelphia.
Somlit Phasouk, 44, is from the Tulare area and Boonlor Patnuvong, 46, is from the Earlimart region.
The operation was unique in that it was so sprawling, Boudreaux said.
Because it resembled an agricultural operation and was situated in a rural area, it was not easily conspicuous as a place where illegal operations were taking place.
The operation was also unique to the county because of the large quantity of suspects of Laotian descent, Boudreaux said.
The suspects were arraigned Monday and will likely have a preliminary hearing scheduled within 30 days. However, with as many as 29 different attorneys for each defendant, timing for this case could delay the process.