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Deputies discover pot garden

LIVINGSTON -- It had all the makings of being a terrific place to raise marijuana, but sheriff's deputies got there first.

Deputy Paul Barile, who oversees the Merced County Sheriff's Department Narcotics Enforcement Team, said officers were checking out methamphetamine dumps in the 15000 block of Vinewood Avenue in Livingston when they came upon a modular home about to become a marijuana-growing mecca.

Barile said officers only discovered 10 to 12 young marijuana plants inside the home, which measured about 2,000 square feet.

The entire building had been gutted out, with plywood and plastic floors set up to grow marijuana. Its windows all were blacked out with black plastic.

"It was just huge," Barile said. "Everything was there; it was a pretty intricate setup. They probably could have grown 300 to 400 plants. It was one big indoor garden."

Deputies may have interrupted construction of the indoor marijuana garden. As officers were approaching a meth dump near the Merced River bottom, they noticed a vehicle leaving from near the trailer.

According to police, about $5,000 worth of equipment, including about 400 pounds of fertilizer, chemicals, ladders, grow lights and tools, were discovered in the modular home.

In a couple more days, construction would have been completed.

No arrests have been made at this point, Barile said.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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