Narcotics agents seized nearly 150 marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed marijuana at an illegal operation in Hilmar on Thursday, according to deputy Tom MacKenzie, Merced County sheriff's spokesman.
The Merced Multi Agency Narcotics Task Force raided the home on the 21,000 block of Blossom Avenue after receiving multiple tips connected to the Operation Mercury effort. Two Hilmar men were taken into custody: Luis Viera, 47, and Jesus Vasquez, 38. Both remain on $15,000 bail for cultivation charges.
Agents said they could see 14 feet of marijuana plants growing in the backyard and noticed two males trying to hide when they arrived. They believe the house was being used as a processing center for marijuana with a backyard tent and empty bedroom used for drying the plants.
Local farmers pitched in by lending a back hoe to help agents destroy the 14-foot grow.
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The Task Force agents said they are receiving hundreds of tips from public and more Operation Mercury raids are planned in the near future.
-- Ramona Giwargis