Police raid seizes marijuana plants

File Photo/Brennan Linsley, Associated Press: A joint task force seized more than 200 marijuana plants outside of Pima.


PIMA – Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona, but growing plants must be approved by regulators.

A joint raid by the Southeast Arizona Narcotics Task Force and Governor Doug Ducey’s Border Strike Force Bureau on Aug. 18 resulted in the confiscation of more than 200 marijuana plants and the arrest of three suspects. The raid took place just outside of Pima, according to Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Public Information Officer Quentin Mehr.

The three suspects, Richard Rodriguez, 48, Joseph Shatto, 36, and Damon Del Deo, 42, were all arrested and booked into the Graham County Jail on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and production of marijuana.

Mehr said the investigation into the marijuana farm was ongoing.

The Border Strike Force Bureau was created by Ducey in September, 2015, with the intention of battling drug cartels and to “deter, disrupt and dismantle crime at the border.” The bureau is led by the DPS and is reported to be a collaborative effort between federal, state and local law enforcement.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2010 initially allowed qualified patients to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants. Caregivers, who could supply up to five patients, were allowed to cultivate up to 60 plants. Once medical marijuana dispensaries opened, however, patients who lived within 25 miles of a dispensary were no longer allowed to grow their own plants and were required to legally obtain marijuana from either a dispensary or a caregiver.

This November, Arizona voters will decide whether to legalize the plant for recreational purposes. Proposition 205 would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use with no penalties. People in possession of more than one ounce up to 2.5 ounces would be guilty of a petty offense, penalized by a $300 fine, and those with more than two ounces would face Arizona’s standard Class-6 Felony charges for unlawful possession of marijuana. The limit on concentrated forms of cannabis, such as hash, oil, cannabutter or tinctures would be five grams.

The proposition, if passed, would also allow residents to grow up to six plants for personal use and keep the fruits of their labor at their residences – even if it is more than 2.5 ounces – with no penalty. There would be a maximum of 12 plans allowed per household.