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Luis Martin Chavez-Diaz, 27
Elk Grove, California
April 29, 2015

Agencies: State Department of Justice California

Last updated: about 1 year ago

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Investigators are all too familiar with the Sacramento County wildlife refuge where a man suspected of illegally growing marijuana was shot dead early Wednesday.

The Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is a popular place for illegal grow operations, officials said, and one of several in the Sacramento area that keeps law enforcement officers coming back almost every year to confront growers and uproot harmful pot plants and toxic chemicals from protected land.

Farmers who grow illegally on public land are usually armed and dangerous, state Department of Justice spokeswoman Michelle Gregory said. Last time law enforcement raided a grow operation in the rural nature preserve near Hood-Franklin Road, it was 2013. Then they found two men carrying shotguns. Both were arrested.

On Wednesday, the man had a handgun.

Officers from multiple agencies arrived at the grow site just as the sun was peeking over the horizon, about 5:45 a.m., a few weeks after marijuana plants were seen from the air by planes that patrol the area. The man was alone on the marijuana site when officers arrived, approaching the grounds from several angles.

When the man was told to surrender his handgun, officials said, he refused. Gregory said he pointed the weapon at a game warden, who then opened fire. It was not immediately clear how many times the man was shot.

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