Search scaled back for pot raid suspects

July 11, 2008 6:45:10 PM PDT
Sheriff's deputies in Santa Clara County now have thousands of marijuana plants to remove in the coming days following a pot raid that turned deadly in the hills above Saratoga. Deputies shot one suspect Thursday and on Friday called off an extensive search for two others.

A helicopter was used Friday to bring out crime scene investigators and the body of a man deputies shot during Thursday's raid. Eventually, an estimated 10,000 marijuana plants will also be airlifted out of the canyon.

"These are very sophisticated drug trafficking organization, gardens. They're very large and very skilled at what they do," says operations commander Neil Cuthbert.

Thursday's raid of the garden ended when deputies shot and killed one man in a pot farm with a shotgun. Two others with weapons ran off. That prompted a massive manhunt and an unusual SWAT operation for the normally quiet village of Saratoga.

"I saw the helicopter circling my house for hours and also I saw the officers here with guns," says Saratoga resident Kay Nora.

Deputies believe the two suspects have managed to flee the area. There is now a full investigation into exactly what happened at the marijuana garden, who shot first and if the suspects fired their weapons or took a threatening stance.

"We're doing a crime scene investigation into the shooting. We're doing an administrative investigation into the officer-involved shooting. It's a compounded situation and it's going to take us a little bit of time to get through it all," said

Two sheriff's deputies are on routine administrative leave until the various investigations are complete.

State agents say marijuana grown in these types of areas are dangerous, which is why they say their eradication efforts are essential.

"This is public land. People are supposed to be able to go out there and hike and fish and enjoy it and not have to worry about being confronted by armed marijuana growers," said Cuthbert.

Agents say the mission to cut down and airlift the marijuana out of the canyon will take about a day.


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