UPDATE: Pot farm suspect shot by deputies - Morgan Hill Times: Crime Fire Courts

UPDATE: Pot farm suspect shot by deputies

Sheriff’s uncover marijuana operation a two-hour hike into Mount Madonna Park

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 6:15 pm

A 3,400 plant rural marijuana operation – that police estimate is worth $10.2 million – turned into a violent crime scene Thursday morning when deputies shot a Hispanic man associated with a pot farm operation near Mount Madonna County Park south of Highway 152 before arresting him several hours later.

Marijuana grow suspect Alvaro Sanchez, 24 of Morgan Hill, endured a non-life threatening gunshot wound after Santa Clara County Deputy Justin Harper shot him once in the arm at 11:45 a.m. The wounded Sanchez turned himself in near the crime scene around 3 p.m. 

Dozens more deputies from Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, SWAT and the California Highway Patrol rushed to the scene – about 15 miles west of Gilroy city limits. Officers did not arrive at the pot growing operation until around 2 p.m. because of a grueling two-hour hike to the location, according to Santa Clara County Sheriff Sgt. Jose Cardoza. No deputies were injured.

A second suspect, another Hispanic male, remains at large as of Friday after fleeing the scene earlier in Thursday. Deputies continue to try to identify him, but as of Thursday night, but the search has been called off.

Cardoza said that people who live near Hecker Pass should assume that he is armed and dangerous.

Cardoza said he is unsure of how the events Thursday morning transpired, but did say that deputies located two rifles on the scene – it has not been determined whether those rifles were drawn or fired by the suspects.

Santa Clara County deputies of the Marijuana Eradication Team arrived on the scene at 7 a.m. to eradicate the illegal grow, after having first received tips on it in March, the start of the marijuana investigation season.

While the reason why the deputies fired is under investigation, Cardoza suggested that the suspects were likely violent.

“They’re not going to shoot someone for no reason,” Cardoza said, as helicopter flew overhead at Mount Madonna County Park. “Those involved in illegal grows will do what it takes to protect their operation from poachers and can be very dangerous.”

Cardoza said the estimated 3,400 plants in the grow have an approximate street value of $10.2 million dollars. 

Since the operation was significantly south from Mount Madonna County Park and Highway 152, both the park and the highway were open to the public as of Thursday afternoon.

The marijuana investigation is now on hold because the shooting investigation has taken precedence. 

Sanchez remains at a local hospital as of Friday afternoon, but is expected to be transported to Santa Clara County Jail soon.

This isn’t the first time a marijuana operation has turned violent in Santa Clara County. Since 2005, three officer-involved shooting incidents have occurred in the county over rural marijuana grows.

Cardoza said that this grow may be in connection to a larger operation or cartel.

“But right now I can’t say for sure. We’ll know more about that when our investigation concludes,” Cardoza said.

  • Discuss

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • cuatthemhtimes posted at 8:06 pm on Sun, Jul 1, 2012.

    cuatthemhtimes Posts: 5

    well if it wasn't for you nice middle class needing to smoke out than your low income wouldn't be around. It always comes down to the middle class blaming every one but them selves. That is why they are middle class. Who votes for the councill. You probably did......it's all you, quit pointing the finger.

  • American posted at 4:23 pm on Fri, Jun 29, 2012.

    American Posts: 22

    Local Morgan Hill Mexican. Hmmm, I wonder if he is another product of our city council stuffing low income housing into our once fair city. Naaa, I'm sure he is the product of a nice middle class neighborhood.

    Way to go Morgan Hill city council. Your dream of diversity has become a reality.