An industrial hemp field, images via the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.
Written by The Business Journal Staff
Fresno County is experiencing a rash of incidents involving thieves mistaking industrial hemp plants for marijuana.
Three such cases have been reported in the last two weeks, according to a news release from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
Two incidents happened at a hemp farm near American and Leonard avenues in Del Rey. On Sept. 27 around 7:30 p.m., a property owner approached a couple of people who were loading hemp into their vehicle, with one of the suspects pointing a gun at the victim before driving away.
Deputies searched the area but couldn’t find the suspects.
Another incident on Oct. 4 around 7 p.m. involved a group of 15 to 20 people at the same property to steal plants. The property owner saw one of the suspects with a gun. They fled before deputies arrived.
On Oct. 7 around 7 a.m., deputies arrested two men trying to steal hemp at Willow and Mountain View avenues near Selma. Fresno resident Frank Carrillo, 39, and Abraham Garza, 51, were arrested on felony grand theft charges for allegedly trying to steal about 25 plants worth about $5,000.
Licensed hemp farms are required to have signage posted on the property, including “No Trespassing” signs, along with a sign that the field contains hemp plants, and not marijuana. Hemp is marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin.