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5,000-plus pot plants found in northeast Merced County

8 a.m. Thursday, June 19

Merced County Sheriff's investigators say they have found more than 5,000 marijuana plants in a rural area off Monte Vista Avenue near a creek in northeast Merced County.

Deputy Paul Barile of the department's Narcotic's Enforcement Team (NET) said the plants were discovered during a recent investigation. No arrests have been made, although Barile said the suspects are believed to be from the San Jose area.

Although details of the grow operation are still sketchy, investigators say there may be more than 8,000 plants at the location, which is between Ballico and Snelling. Barile said the operation was powered with the help of generators, which were still running when investigators arrived.

For more information, check later for updates.