Fire & Violence At Illegal Marijuana Farms Are A Growing Concern For Phelan And Pinon Hills Residents

Tri-Community NewsPlus

On June 26 at about 6 pm, deputies arrived at the 9300 block of White Road in Phelan to find a home fully engulfed in flames. To make things worse, the dirt road leading to the house was booby-trapped with nails sticking out of the ground, causing tire damage to sheriff vehicles and fire engines. The location was deemed illegal marijuana grow. Fortunately, no injuries occurred due to the fire; unfortunately, no arrests have been made.

Just weeks later, at about 5:30 pm on July 6, in the community of Phelan, a 32-year-old man Abraham Talamantes was killed at an illegal marijuana grow. Deputies responded to the 5300 block
of Sandstone and found Talamantes unresponsive and having suffered from a gunshot. Despite life-saving measures, he was tragically pronounced deceased at the location. Unfortunately, a suspect has not been identified.

From June 20 through July 3, Weeks 43 and 44 of Operation Hammer Strike, authorities served 35 search warrants at illegal marijuana grows, arresting 64 people, seized over 54,000 plants and 10,956 pounds of processed marijuana in Phelan, Pinon Hills, and other High Desert Communities of San Bernardino County. Four hundred seventy-three greenhouses were eradicated, eight indoor grows, and one THC extraction lab. Two locations were in Phelan one was in Pinon Hills. Not one of these cannabis cultivation locations followed California Medical or the Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. San Bernardino County also has an ordinance prohibiting commercial cannabis activities, which includes outdoors. Those found guilty of violating the state law and county ordinance are subject to fines, prosecution, and seizure of property.

In weeks 45 and 46 of Operation Hammer Strike, 27 illegal grow locations were served warrants, resulting in the eradication of over 870 greenhouses. Warrants were served in El Mirage, Helendale, Adelanto, Victorville, Lucerne Valley, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Phelan, and Oak Hills communities. Over 70 suspects were located and arrested, and Marijuana Enforcement Teams seized 116,162 marijuana plants, 9,669 pounds of processed marijuana, 17 guns, 1,085 grams of concentrated marijuana, and over $55,000 in cash. Eight indoor locations were also located and eradicated and mitigated one THC extraction lab. One stolen vehicle was also discovered.

It’s been almost one year since the beginning of Operation Hammer Strike and the second summer since the MET teams have been serving warrants. As fast as illegal grows are being eradicated, new ones are popping up. The MET teams and Sheriff’s deputies are working hard to stop the grows, and it is clear that the mission is not over and help is needed from legislators to create laws and consequences that deter anyone from illegally growing marijuana.

The Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District will host its second Town Hall on August 6, 2022, starting at 10:00 am at the Phelan Community Park. This time there will also be an Ice Cream Social. Several government representatives will be in attendance to answer questions. Scheduled to attend include Congressman Jay Obernolte, Assemblyman Thurston “Smitty” Smith, Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, County Supervisor Paul Cook, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus, and the PPHCSD Board of Directors.

The first Town Hall was held in July 2021 and was attended by several hundred residents, with the majority of the town hall spent talking about the illegal marijuana issue.

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