Routine Traffic Stop Yields 5,900 Illegal Marijuana Plants

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Press Release
photos: Sheriff’s FB page

In the early morning hours of March 23rd, a Deputy from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office discovered 5,900 illegal marijuana plants in the back of an Oregon-bound van during a routine traffic stop along the I-5 corridor.

At around 6:45am, on Saturday, a Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Deputy noticed a white Dodge van traveling at a high rate of speed along I-5 in inclement weather. As the vehicle continued to speed, the Deputy initiated a traffic stop on the van in the area of Weed, CA. Upon exiting the vehicle, the deputy instantly recognized the strong smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The Deputy contacted the driver of the van, James Lucatero, 41, of Garden Grove, CA, and the passenger, Dixon Romero Peña, 27, of Colton, CA.

Lucatero was cited for speeding, and then asked if he would consent to a search of the van, which he agreed to. In the rear of the van, the deputy discovered dozens of large cardboard boxes with rooted marijuana plants sticking out. Lucatero then claimed that he did not know what was in the back of the van, and stated that he had been told by an unknown individual to rent and drive the empty van into the Mojave Desert the previous morning, leave it, and return a couple hours later. Then, the men were paid $1,000 to drive the illegal marijuana to Portland, Oregon.

The Deputy cited both men for the cultivation and transportation of unlicensed marijuana and conducted an inventory of the van. In total, 5,901 marijuana plants were discovered, and subsequently destroyed. A 2lb sample of the plant was preserved for evidence and future lab testing.

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