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Crime & Justice

Weeds in the wild: Marijuana boat sentencing, Tujunga sanctuary arrest

Marijuana plantation.
Marijuana plantation.
Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images

The Ventura County Star reports that 29-year-old Pedro Lopez-Rocha will serve a six year federal prison sentence for smuggling half a ton of marijuana into the U.S. on a panga boat that came ashore near Malibu in January. Investigators say the man sent a text to someone in L.A. announcing the boat's arrival from Ensenada.

Lopez-Rocha and two other Mexican men were arrested by Customs and Border Protection agents while unloading more than 45 bales of marijuana. He will be deported to Mexico after serving the sentence, said prosecutors. The codefendants were sentenced to a year in prison. 

Meanwhile, at the Tujunga Ponds Wildlife Sanctuary, deputies have arrested a 51-year-old man for illegally building a makeshift house in which he was growing marijuana.

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators said that Robert Downs was found in a remote section of the SoCal sanctuary where he'd erected a crude structure and surrounding area that included bunk beds, a rock patio, barbecue, tables, and eight potted pot plants.

Downs was booked for investigation of marijuana cultivation, and removing plants and trees from a county park. Bail is set at $30,000.

The structure, which he claims to have started building eight months ago, will be torn down in the next two weeks.