An estimated 400,000 marijuana plants were destroyed by Santa Barbara County sheriff’s investigators this week in what authorities are calling the county’s largest seizure of pot plants at one site.

The plants were hidden among farmland in Santa Maria and discovered by sheriff’s investigators on Monday, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

A sheriff's deputy destroys illegally cultivated marijuana in Santa Maria
A sheriff’s deputy destroys illegally cultivated marijuana in Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)

The crop belonged to a resident who, authorities said, had applied for a temporary state cannabis license using false information and did not have a valid cannabis license. Investigators found the 400,000 plants in various levels of maturity and tapped state Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel to help in the case.

“The number of seized plants at the cultivation site was the largest to date, and eradication efforts spanned two days,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Authorities referred the case to county prosecutors and requested they consider perjury and illegal marijuana cultivation charges against the resident, officials said.

Recreational cannabis became legal in California this year but a license is required for all aspects of the burgeoning industry. Santa Barbara County has provided a legal pathway for cultivation there, authorities said.