Pot Busts Reach Record Highs for Arrests and Plant Seizure
TOPPENISH, Wash- There are now 16 men in custody for their involvement in various marijuana grows throughout the Yakima Valley.
There's a 60-day speedy trial rule, meaning these men will be sentenced soon. Some at the state, others at the federal level. This year has brought record numbers of plants seized, 153,000 so far.
Many of these arrests and crop busts have come to the Law Enforcement Against Drugs or LEAD Task Force via anonymous tips. Yesterday's bust came from a farmer. He saw a pile of marijuana at the end of a row in a vineyard and then notified detectives.
Now the task force is working day and night to remove plants all over the area.
"We had to quit yesterday because it was just too much. We just couldn't handle it. We got another search warrant and came back to the property and finished up this morning," said Sgt. Richard Beghtol, LEAD.
The task force has enlisted the help of Yakima County Search and Rescue to bundle and load the plants. Sgt. Beghtol said these marijuana grows are connected and likely part of an organized crime ring. The owners of the fields have kept themselves distanced while the workers are taking the fall.
LEAD Task Force attributes much of their success to tips from community members.