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Investigation into dead Sacramento man and illegal marijuana grows leads to 5 arrests, deputies say

A body found in a car led detectives to several illegal marijuana grows and the arrests of multiple people.
Credit: fergregory - stock.adobe.com

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. — Five people were arrested during a death investigation in Butte County.

On Sept. 11, deputies with the Butte County Sheriff's Office found an unmarked vehicle in a rural area along Forbestown Road in Oroville. Upon arrival, deputies found a dead man inside the vehicle, who was identified as Melvin Garcia-Vargas, 33 of Sacramento. 

As the investigation continued, detectives found evidence that the victim was shot in his lower body. 

A search warrant was issued on Sept. 12 to search the Sacramento home of Carlos Garcia-Hernandez, 66, who was identified as the victim's father. 

According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, Melvin died at an illegal marijuana grow run by his father in the area of Squaw Flat Road in Forbestown. Authorities said that Carlos and his two other children, who were identified as Juan Garcia-Vargas, 27, and Ronald Garcia-Vargas, 28, moved and concealed Melvin’s body after his death. 

On Sept.12, the sheriff's office said they served a search warrant at the marijuana grow on Squaw Flat Road, eventually finding the place where they believe Melvin was shot. Additionally, detectives said they discovered a firearm and over 600 marijuana plants. Another search warrant was served by the sheriff's office at seven parcels on Knob Hill Avenue, where they found five firearms and over 1,400 marijuana plants, deputies said.

Deputies believe Melvin accidentally shot himself while working at the illegal marijuana grow in Forbestown and that Carlos and his two sons, with the assistance of Juan Cruzcupido, moved and attempted to hide Melvin's body in an effort to hide the marijuana grows from law enforcement. 

The following people have been arrested:

  • Carlos Garcia-Hernandez - suspected of misdemeanor counts of illegal cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and unlawfully moving and disposing of human remains. 
  • Juan Garcia-Vargas - suspected of misdemeanor counts of illegal cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and unlawfully moving and disposing of human remains. 
  • Ronald Garcia-Vargas - suspected of misdemeanor counts of illegal cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and unlawfully moving and disposing of human remains. 
  • Juan Cruzcupido, 33 of Sacramento - suspected of misdemeanor counts of illegal cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and unlawfully moving and disposing of human remains. 
  • Edgar Najera, 50, of Sacramento - suspected of misdemeanor counts of illegal cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale. 

If anyone has information about this investigation, they are encouraged to call Detective Tristan Harper or Zach Price at 530-538-7671.

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