Crime

Two arrested, 1,200 marijuana plants seized at North Palm Springs property

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office Cannabis Regulation Task Force arrested two men and seized approximately 1,200 cannabis plants during a bust of an illegal marijuana grow operation in North Palm Springs Thursday morning.

Ronald David Barrett, 54, and Jose Manuel Mercado Beltran, 43, were arrested on suspicion of illegal marijuana cultivation, according to a news release by the DA's office. Both men lived on the raided property at 16th Avenue and Indian Canyon Drive in the unincorporated area of North Palm Springs.

The DA's news release reveals the illegal marijuana grow was spotted by a California Highway Patrol aircraft during a previous flyover. The CHP helicopter reported seeing the illegal grow on several parcels totaling about 6 acres.

Numerous viewers called early this morning to report helicopters visible around the city during the CRTF operation.

The DA's news release reveals helicopters were called in to assist "due to the  size of the area where the operation was conducted."

Barrett and Mercado have been booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. 

Stay with News Channel 3 for any updates.

Agencies currently on CRTF include the DA's Bureau of Investigation, the Riverside County
Sheriff's Department, the Hemet, Riverside, Temecula, Palm Springs, and Murrieta police
departments, along with the Riverside County Code Enforcement Department.

Due to the size of the property, members of the DA's Gang Impact Team and the Riverside County Autotheft Interdiction Detail team was called in to assist with the operation.


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