Fish and Game bust marijuana grow near Lake Isabella

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif.--- Officers seized 454 marijuana plants, pounds of processed marijuana and weapons and made five arrests during a raid Friday at a remote site in the mountains east of Lake Isabella, California Department Fish and Game officials said.

"There was an organized group of drug distributors who were cultivating marijuana on a Fish and Game managed ecological reserve," said Fish and Game Warden Patrick Foy.

The investigation began in May, when a Fish and Game warden on patrol stumbled upon the cultivation in the Canebrook Ecological Preserve.

Officials said that the growers set up a very sophisticated system that included a one mile irrigation pipeline that routed water from a nearby creek.

"These guys had taken the water out of that creek for the marijuana plants, depriving wildlife of its' most basic need," said Foy.

Department officials also found evidence of poaching. There was also evidence that the chemicals used in the marijuana cultivation damaged wildlife in the area.

"We found a dead coyote and a dead Cooper's Hawk in the grove site," said Foy.

Fish and Game believe the animals died as a result of eating rodents who in turn had ingested the chemicals.

Two suspects were arrested at the site, 27 year-old Cruz Soria and 20 year-old Marco Correa Garcia. Three other suspects whose identities have not yet been revealed were arrested off site, said Foy.

Soria and Garcia are facing numerous felony charges including planting and cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, concealing stolen firearms and conspiring to commit a crime. Bail for the men is set at $500,000.

Fish and Game had recently restored the site to its natural state after busting other suspects for cultivating marijuana in the same area in 2008.

"It really didn't occur to us that someone would come back four years later and try to cultivate marijuana on the exact same site," said Foy.