San Andreas, CA….On 7/27/16 the CCSO took a report of a suspicious circumstances call in West Point California. A resident reported that four unknown subjects arrived at the resident’s home asking to call 911 for help from law enforcement. The following events took place. CCSO Patrol Deputies arrived on scene and contacted four Hispanic males. Three of the males had significant visible injuries. The injured victims reported that they had been held hostage since February of 2016 and they were beaten while being forced to work in a large marijuana cultivation site near the town of West Point in Calaveras County. The injured victims were transported to an area hospital however; one victim had to be transported to a trauma center due to severe injuries.
Sheriff’s Detectives were called in to take over the investigation. Two of the victims in this case advised they were picked up by a female later identified as Guadalupe Sierra Arellano aka “Lupe” near the city of Modesto under the guise of working on a landscaping project at a home. They were transported into Calaveras County. Once they arrived, they worked at a home in West Point for several days before being taken by force to a nearby large marijuana cultivation site where they were threatened and forced to work for a period of months. The suspect known as Lupe was able to obtain the victim’s home address in Modesto. The suspect Lupe travelled to Modesto and contacted the victim’s family members. At the Modesto home Lupe told the family that the victims were working for her and involved in Marijuana. Lupe offered to take two additional family members to see the other two victims however, Lupe threatened that if they reported anything to law enforcement the family members would be killed. Two additional brothers went with Lupe to the home near West Point to see if their family members were safe. Again these two brothers were confronted and threatened by armed men and taken to the nearby marijuana site where they were reunited with their family members and forced to work. The remaining family in Modesto was also being threatened.
In the days leading up to their escape on July 27, 2016 the victims were beaten for complaining about the conditions of their captivity. The victims overheard a male captor or suspect ask Lupe if they “could kill the victims.” “Lupe reportedly responded no because they were almost done with the marijuana harvest.” “Once they were done they would kill the victims.” It was also during this time that one of the male captors attempted to stab one of the victims. The suspect was holding a knife and gun at the same time. The victims decided to escape at night and were successful however; it took them nearly all night to find help.
On 7/28/16 the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office Detectives, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s SWAT Team, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s SWAT Team, the FBI, BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Cal Fire, and Angels Police Department K9s served a search warrant near Bald Mountain Rd. in connection with this case. Over 23 Thousand Marijuana Plants were located at an estimated street value between $18 and $60 Million dollars. During the service of the search warrant a Hispanic male was observed running from investigators. A back pack was found along the trail that this subject travelled and investigators recovered a handgun from the bag. No arrests were made at the time the search warrant was served however, the investigation continued. Over the next several weeks search warrants were served at locations in Stanislaus County. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the FBI and the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office obtained arrest warrants for suspects involved in this case. The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing additional charges against other known and identified suspects.
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance in this case. The FBI, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, the Angels Police Department, BLM, Cal Fire, and the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office. In addition we would like to thank both our local Victims Services through the Calaveras County Crisis Center and the FBI’s Victim’s Services Unit.