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Illicit marijuana growing operation disbanded in Sonoma Coast State Park

Two suspects were arrested after authorities discovered an illegal marijuana growing operation in Sonoma Coast State Park earlier this month.

The plot, which included about 1,500 plants, was found Aug. 17 with about 1,000 pounds of trash, the California Department of Parks and Recreation announced Monday afternoon.

Supervising Sonoma Coast Ranger Damien Jones said the operation was in a remote area near Coleman Valley Road, between Highway 1 and Occidental.

“They were trespassing across private property to reach it in an area where there are really no trails or roads,” he said of the suspects, who were identified as Genaro Vargas-Vicente, 45, and Ramiro Nieto-Sebastian, 25.

They face charges that include illegal cannabis cultivation, water diversion and possession of a loaded gun. The pair were booked into the Sonoma County Jail on Aug. 17.

Neither man was listed in jail records Monday and it was unclear if either had an attorney.

Sonoma Coast State Park spans 17 miles from the area of Bodega Bay to about 4 miles north of Jenner. It includes popular beaches and one of the coast’s most rugged, publicly accessible stretches of coastline.

Jones said authorities were tipped off about the marijuana grow, located on two plots of land that appeared similar in size to a football field.

The suspects diverted water from a nearby creek into “several large pits lined with tarps,” according to State Parks.

The trash that was discovered at the scene included fertilizer, rodenticides, a generator, gasoline and plastic irrigation lines. More than a dozen trees were cut down to create the clearing.

“There was significant tree cutting,” Jones said.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

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