A report of indiscriminate shooting near Ione on Sunday led to the discovery of what Amador County sheriff's officials described as a marijuana growing and processing operation funded by a Mexican drug trafficking organization.
Deputies were dispatched shortly after 7 a.m. to a report of shooting at 1515 Duck Creek Road, where they attempted to make contact with the residents.
When deputies knocked on the front door of the home, eight males were seen running from the rear of the residence, jumping over the back fence and into a field behind the property. They were ordered to stop but did not comply, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
Deputies requested assistance in creating a perimeter and additional deputies, as well as a California Highway Patrol officer, an Ione police office and a California Fish and Wildlife officer, came to their aid.
Deputies located and detained three people who were inside the house when they arrived. They were identified as Blake Arnold Bowman, 23, of Martell, and Taylor Brianne Hammock, 24, and Zachary Gene Mabrey, 25, both of JacksonValley. Deputies also observed a large outdoor marijuana cultivation site consisting of 66 growing marijuana plants and noticed that the living room, garage and a detached shed on the property were all being used to process marijuana, sheriff’s officials said.
A CHP helicopter conducted an aerial search, while dogs were used to search the wooded area behind the residence. No suspects were found at that time.
The Amador County Combined Narcotics Enforcement Team responded, and investigators obtained a warrant for the premises. The search yielded approximately 20 pounds of processed marijuana, a butane honey oil lab, digital scales, packaging material, marijuana packaged for sale, a loaded shotgun and an AK047 pattern rifle, sheriff’s officials said.
Based on evidence obtained during the search and statements from the parties involved, investigators determined that Mabrey was being paid $500 a month for use of his property by a Mexican drug trafficking operation, sheriff’s officials reported. They said the drug trafficking organization provided the marijuana plants, paid all expenses and provided the manpower to set up and tend the marijuana. In addition to the $500 per month, Mabrey was to receive one-third of the total net of the marijuana harvested, according to sheriff’s officials. Based on interviews, investigators determined that the group had already processed and removed more than 40 pounds of processed marijuana.
While the narcotics enforcement team processed the scene at the Duck Creek Road residence, an officer on the perimeter spotted a van westbound on Highway 88. The officer noticed that two males in the back seat tried to hide themselves when passing the marked patrol vehicle.
The van was stopped and officials determined that the two men in the back seat were two of the people who had fled from the house. They were covered in mud and grass, and both smelled of marijuana, sheriff’s officials said. They were identified as Paris Fabian, 22, of Galt, and Adolfo Mendoza, 24, of Anderson.
Sheriff’s officials said the driver of the van, a local resident, said the two men knocked on his door and asked for a ride to Lodi, which he agreed to provide.
Mabrey was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, manufacturing a controlled substance, being a felon in possession of a firearm and conspiracy. Hammock was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and conspiracy, and Bowman, on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and conspiracy. Mendoza and Fabian were both arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and obstructing or delaying a peace officer.
Sheriff’s officials said the investigation is continuing.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.