NorCal gunshot death investigation reveals illegal marijuana grow operation
The gunshot death of a man in rural northern California has led to five arrests, including his father and two brothers who are accused of trying to hide the body to prevent investigators from uncovering illegal logging of growing marijuana, authorities said.
Butte County MPs found Melvin Garcia-Vargas, 33, dead from a gunshot wound in the back of an SUV parked along a secluded road on September 11, sheriff officials said.
The next day, detectives spoke with the victim’s father, Carlos Garcia-Hernandez, at his home in Sacramento. Officials said MPs found evidence at the house and obtained a search warrant.
Investigators have determined that Garcia-Vargas died at an illegal pot farm controlled by his father in the Forbestown area.
Detectives found evidence that the father and his two other adult sons, Juan Garcia-Vargas and Ronald Garcia-Vargas, had moved and hidden the man’s body, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Eventually, investigators determined that the three men controlled several other cannabis growing operations. Five guns and more than 1,400 potted plants were found on seven plots of land, the newspaper said.
Sheriff officials said detectives found evidence indicating Melvin Garcia-Vargas likely accidentally shot himself while working at the Forbestown scene.
Garcia-Hernandez, 66, and his two sons, Juan, 27, and Ronald, 28, were each arrested on charges of illegally growing marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and the illicit removal and disposal of human remains, were arrested. sheriff officials said.
Juan Cruzcupido, 33, and Edgar Najera, 50, both of Sacramento, were also arrested. Cruzcupido and Najera were each arrested on charges of illegally cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale. Cruzcupido faces an additional charge of removal and illegal disposal of human remains.
The investigation is ongoing. It was not known on Sunday whether the men had lawyers.
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