Dozens of smuggled people found working in ‘horrible’ conditions at illegal Central Valley marijuana plant

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MERCED — Dozens of people who apparently were smuggled into the United States were found working and living in “horrible” conditions at an illegal marijuana plant in California’s Central Valley, authorities said Thursday.

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Deputies served a search warrant Wednesday afternoon at a site on unincorporated land near the city of Merced and discovered the operation. Images posted online by the Merced County Sheriff’s Office showed trays, bags and boxes stuffed with what looked to be marijuana in a run-down interior space.

“We literally have thousands of pounds of finished marijuana from an illegal grow and illegal source,” Sheriff Vern Warnke said in a video.

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Deputies found 60 people working there including men and women who were offered various unspecified resources, plus one juvenile, who was seen by child welfare authorities and released to a parent, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

“Our investigators learned that these individuals arrived at the property several days prior with the promise that they would have a good-paying job and a place to stay,” the statement said.

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