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Deputies arrest 20 in pot raids

More than 165 pounds of marijuana seized

BARSTOW • Sheriff’s narcotics detectives have busted five High Desert marijuana grow operations in the past week, including two in Newberry Springs, officials reported Thursday.

Deputies with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Marijuana Eradication Team were working on their sixth bust Thursday afternoon, according to Public Affairs Officer Cindy Bachman.

The team arrested 20 suspects in the Newberry Springs grow operations. Between the two locations investigators found more than 1,500 marijuana plants, seizing about 165 pounds of marijuana in all, according to a Sheriff’s report.

After receiving information from the Barstow patrol station, MET secured and served warrants for two ranch-style properties in the  317600 block of Fort Cady Road and 47900 block of Palo Verde Lane, the report said.

On the Palo Verde property, the marijuana was cultivated in horse stables and corrals, covering 1.2 acres of land. In these “plywood grows,” farmers attempt to hide the growth with large plywood planks and cover the top with black mesh, Bachman said.

The eight suspects arrested for this grow were believed to have lived in a three-bedroom house on the property, the report said. Arrested were: Soudaninh Nanthavong, 26, Noi Thanavongsy, 50, Khamdee Saengarun, 58, Phasouk Inthavongsa, 36, Bouasavanh Miphenglavanh, 58, Phousavath Sengdara, 38, Paphavad Thepsimuang, 40, and Anola Sophabmixay, 42.

During an arraignment hearing at Barstow Superior Court, the Laotian farmers in orange corrections jumpsuits lined the jury box, looking nervously around the room as an interpreter conveyed to them their criminal charges and the legal proceedings against them.

All eight pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of cultivating marijuana. Each was assigned a defense attorney before being returned to their temporary holding cells. The group returned to court for their arraignment after the court ordered a Laotian interpreter the day before.

They are due back in court Oct. 16 for a conference hearing.

At the Fort Cady Road property, marijuana was cultivated inside a chain-link fence with landscaping mesh to mask the operation, spanning half an acre of land. As the warrant was served, eight suspects fled into the desert, but were apprehended with assistance from the Sheriff’s aviation. Four more suspects were discovered inside one of several residences on the property.

Arrested were: Raymundo Lomeli Deniz, 50, Abel Huerta, 21, Elesar Ramirez Rojas, 25, Martin Padilla, 34, Antonio Isael Lopes, 37, Juan Santos Donis-Diaz, 32, Mario Antonio Delcid-Perez, 24, Alexander Donis-Diaz, 28, Julio Esteban Reyes-Chavez, 20, Leonel Domingo Paz-Garcia, 24, Juan Manuel Castillo-Yeh, 32, and Jorge Luis Rendon-Rodriguez, 30.

Each of the 12 also pleaded not guilty during their arraignment Wednesday. They are scheduled to return to court Oct. 17 for a conference hearing.

All 20 defendants are being held at West Valley Detention Center.

Anyone with information about the investigation can contact the Sheriff’s Narcotics Division at (909)890-4840 or anonymously call the WeTip Hotline at (800) 78-CRIME.


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