Agents seize pot at nine operations in Merced, Snelling

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comOctober 15, 2012 

Operation Mercury has resulted in nine more raids of suspected illegal marijuana grows in Merced County in the past week, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, Merced County sheriff's spokesman.

The largest pot bust was at a home at Franklin Road and Highway 140 in Merced, where narcotics agents cleared out 100 marijuana plants and seized about 50 pounds of processed marijuana. No arrests were made, and charges are pending, MacKenzie said.

Five other locations in Merced and three in Snelling were searched this past week, yielding small amounts of marijuana, but no arrests. According to MacKenzie, many of the owners self-eradicated their pot gardens when agents showed up at the door.

Authorities said they are still receiving daily phone calls and tips about illegal marijuana-growing operations, and there's no projected date for Operation Mercury's end.

"Operation Mercury is going to continue and be ongoing as long as the outdoor growing season continues," said Special Agent Casey Rettig of the Drug Enforcement Administration in San Francisco.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

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