The Yurok Tribal Police Department plans to continue its search of marijuana grow sites in the Weitchpec area as the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office finishes up its role in this year’s operation. The initial week of activity resulted in seizure of over 30,000 cannabis plants and 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana.
The Sheriff’s Office served search warrants to commercial marijuana growing operations between July 13 and July 15. In addition to the Yurok Tribal Police Department, they were joined by the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), and the State of California, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), among others. Altogether, the groups served seven state warrants and one tribal warrant.
According to the Sherriff’s Office, the groups found evidence of significant land use violations. Lt. Wayne Hanson said,
“All 20 warrants sites had serious environmental damage.”
Andrew Hughan, spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, stated that streambed violations were common to all the sites. Water diversion is a particularly onerous violation as California has been operating under drought conditions for the last four years.
The searches have been initiated in part due to notable water diversion from community water resources. Yurok Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke said,
“That’s our drinking water storage.”
Other environmental damages noted by the groups were illegal dumping and land grading. The latter could negatively affect wildlife and the watershed by allowing chemical fertilizers to leach into water sources. Chemicals could be carried and deposited far from the original site. Hughan noted that the growers had used chemical fertilizers liberally on the plants.
He also stated that the search groups would leave the cleanup to the homeowners who own the property. It will be their responsibility to manage the disposal of trash heaps weighing in the tons.
O’Rourke stated that the Yurok Tribal Police Department, the National Guard and the Bureau of Indian Affairs would keep at the search “until it’s done,” and then start again next year.
Over $1 million of marijuana has been found hidden underneath sand on South Padre Island.
The heap of cannabis was discovered after the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip. Found at two separate locations, the local deputies called in the assistance of a Customs and Border Protection helicopter to assist and search from the sky.
A man was caught pretending to fish near the location of the marijuana. He was reportedly using sea shells as bait. After questioning, he confessed to being there to watch over the bundles of pot.
Sheriff Omar Lucio spoke about the smuggling operation:
“They are probably bringing it in through some boats or ships. They have smaller boats, and they get it onto the beach. And then they try to cover it up and have somebody else pick them up.”
Customs and Border Protection will now begin further investigation and the fake fisherman will be charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
More than 109,000 marijuana plants have been seized by authorities in Lipscomb County, located near the Oklahoma border in the northeast Texas Panhandle.
The initial investigation began on Friday, June 5 by local, state and federal authorities. The confiscation of the plants was completed the following Monday, but as of June 10 there had been no confirmed arrests by the Dallas Drug Enforcement Administration.
The farm featured a number of underground power generators, as well as complicated irrigation systems. It was initially discovered by a local deer hunter and being described as the largest bust in Texas state history.
A 2014 Polk County bust, which included the seizure of 100,197 plants among 29 fields with an estimated value of $175 million, was previously the largest in state history.
Tim Davis, the spokesman for the DEA, said that the operation had been discovered a few days ago, but would not comment on whether all the plants had been destroyed. He did confirm that the plants have been removed from the area and are no longer growing.
California was the first of the United States to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 1996. As a result, outdoor medical marijuana gardens are a staple in the state, especially in northern California counties. Over the years, there have been many cases in which medical marijuana grow operations have been raided even though they were operating compliantly under California state law. In these situations, gardens are destroyed and growers may be prosecuted. In recent years, these raids have become few and far between because the majority of growers operate strictly under state rules and regulations, and the federal government publicly stated that raids would not be conducted on operations abiding by state laws.
After a recent incident, one medical marijuana grower in Mendocino County, Susan Schindler, is wondering if a federal raid was ordered on her outdoor medical marijuana garden. She described what sounds like a scene from an action movie, involving men dressed in camouflage and masks repelling from helicopters to destroy all the marijuana plants in her garden. Susan was home during the attack. She asked the masked men to identify themselves, but they refused. Schindler reported that the men showed no form of identification, no warrants were presented, and no explanation given for the destruction of her property.
Many people, especially growers, in Mendocino County are demanding information, but have received zero clues as to the identity of the vigilantes out to eradicate marijuana growth throughout the county. The local authorities deny any involvement in the destruction of Schindler’s garden because when law enforcement conducts a raid, identification and warrants are provided. Schindler suspects that a security company by the name of Lear Asset Management may be behind these clandestine operations because of the company’s promotional claims of working with law enforcement officials. Lear denies any involvement in the destruction of Schindler’s grow operation. When Mendocino County Sheriff, Tom Allman, was asked about Lear Asset Management, he denied any involvement with the company, stating that “the sheriff’s office does not hire private security guards to go out and do our job.”
A particularly disappointing fact about this mystery raid was the that the plants destroyed were all low in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and high is the medicinally valuable cannabinoid, CBD. CBD is a key cannabinoid valued in the treatment of many medical conditions such as glaucoma, epilepsy, and cancer. Schindler explained to news channel, KPIX, that the plants destroyed had no street value because they would not even get a person “high.” She also stated that she was compliant with the legal amount of crops permitted for harvest, which was 25 plants per parcel.
The identity of the vigilante crew remains a mystery because none of the suspects claim involvement. If these raids on innocent growers continue, someone has to be held accountable. The men conducting these raids are heavily armed, and refuse to identify themselves. This is not appropriate under federal law.
photo credit: egroll