Two men and five women were arrested and 12 children placed in protective custody after authorities found a marijuana grow of more than 2,100 mature plants with a street value of $4.3 million, the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department reported.
The men and women are Mexican nationals and in the United States illegally. Their children range in age from an infant to 15 years old, according to a department news release issued Wednesday.
Acting on a tip, Tuolumne County drug agents and U.S. Forest Service personnel found a marijuana garden near Groveland on Tuesday. A path led them to a house connected with the garden.
Authorities obtained a warrant and searched the house, where one man, the five women and 12 children were found. A second man arrived while the warrant was being served.
Authorities found two rifles, cultivation materials and about $7,600 in cash in the house and garden, according to the news release.
The 2,174 mature plants were destroyed.
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