STOCKTON — The San Joaquin County Metro Narcotics Task Force eradicated two large-scale marijuana grows and one smaller grow Thursday in a rural part of southeast Stockton.

Task force agents destroyed more than 500 marijuana plants, recovered three firearms and arrested two men in raids on three properties on Carpenter Road and Marfargoa Road, authorities said. Deputy Les Garcia, a spokesman for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, said the plants could have yielded about 2,000 pounds of marijuana with an estimated local street value of $3 million.

The first two busts occurred at neighboring residences in the 4400 and 4500 blocks of Carpenter Road, just west of Mariposa Road. Task force agents were eradicating 165 large plants at the residence in the 4400 block when they noticed a larger grow in the backyard next door, authorities said.

Agents approached the house and asked a resident to let them into the backyard. The resident agreed, saying he had a permit to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. But San Joaquin County has an ordinance that prohibits the cultivation of marijuana for any reason.

“The state has their guidelines, but in the state’s rules they have decided to let each municipality — each local jurisdiction — decide what’s good for them,” Garcia said. “In San Joaquin County, our lawmakers have decided we don’t want weed here. If they want to get their weed, they can get it from a dispensary somewhere else, but we don’t want to be a part of that, so they have decided to have a ban on cultivation.”

In the backyard of the second home, agents discovered 192 large marijuana plants ranging from 6 feet tall to 15 feet tall. They also found a camp with cots and air mattresses. Authorities said one man was found at the camp and two others fled on foot as agents arrived.

Agents spent all morning and much of the afternoon uprooting the plants and placing them in the back of trucks for removal.

At the first residence, Fausto Pelayo, 25, was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana for sales, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also arrested on a warrant for transporting or selling methamphetamine.

At the second residence, Chris Smith, 52, was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Task force agents later went to a home less than two miles away in the 3800 block of Marfargoa Road. There they discovered 144 marijuana plants and one firearm, authorities said. No arrests were made, but Garcia said the case would be submitted to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office with a request for marijuana cultivation charges.

— Contact reporter Jason Anderson at (209) 546-8279 or Follow him at and on Twitter @Stockton911.