Authorities found over half-a-million dollars of marijuana, along with stolen vehicles, at an active grow site in Mountain Center Tuesday morning.
Christopher Gerats, 31, and Kevin Valenzuela, 24, both Mountain Center residents, were arrested following the service of three residential search warrants in the community Tuesday at approximately 7:00 a.m., according to Sergeant Frank Schiavone of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Schiavone wrote that authorities were alerted to the area following community concerns and complaints of illegal marijuana cultivation.
In total, Schiavone revealed that authorities recovered over 1,500 lbs. of harvested marijuana, two stolen ATVs, ammunition, $2,000.00 in cash and 1,294 plants from an active grow site. The estimated street value of the marijuana exceeds $500,000.
Gerats faces charges of illegal cultivation of marijuana and Valenzuela faces charges of violating formal probation. Both were transported to County Jail in Indio.
Schiavone writes that the service of the search warrants was handled by deputies from the Palm Desert Sheriff Station and Hemet Sheriff Stations, along with the Coachella Valley Narcotics Taskforce and Majors Narcotics Task Force.
Message from RSO on illegal marijuana cultivation:
The goal of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is to keep all of our citizens safe while also improving the quality of life for those residing within the community. Marijuana cultivation negatively impacts the environment in many ways including diminishing and poisoning the water table and pesticides adversely affecting the health of neighboring residents. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has a zero-tolerance policy for these offenses.
If you suspect drug activity in your area, please contact your local Sheriff’s Station. The Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station can be reached at (760) 836-1600.