Autumn is here, and for many that means harvesting summer crops before the frost sets in. That holds true whether the crops are legal or illegal, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Narcotics task force has reaped a bounty in October from farmers working outside the law.
With California’s medical marijuana laws, many think they have free reign to grow as much pot as they want, as long as they can claim a medical card – or provide it for someone else who does. But the limits, which are established locally, are usually much more strict on the number of plants one can grow on their property than a typical marijuana grower wants to plant. Besides that, profiting from marijuana growing and selling remains illegal – growers and processors must work on a strict non-profit basis through a legitimate collective group.
In July of this year, the task force had eradicated several large marijuana grows in rural Kelseyville, south of the main part of town and near Kelsey Creek. Since that time, a new crop was planted in the area, which was spotted in a marijuana overflight operation. The plants were maturing, and on Tuesday, October 21, the narcotics task force conducted a raid of the property, according to Steve Brooks of the Sheriff’s office. The detectives found and eradicated 4,118 plants in the area, and discovered a complex gravity fed irrigation system set up to divert water from a nearby spring. No suspects were found, however, and the investigation continues.
Then on Thursday, October 23, armed with a search warrant, narcotics detectives appeared at a residence closer to central Kelseyville, but on a large lot behind homes on Chippewa Trail, on a small private road called Mojave Trail. According to Brooks, detectives arrived at 9:30 am and found two men, Ryan Patrick Cravea, 25, and Dean Edward McClellan, 48, both of whom were living on the property. While the two men were detained, detectives conducted their search, and found an active butane honey oil lab, along with several pounds of processed marijuana. Honey oil labs are a way for users and dealers to create a concentrated, thick liquid form of cannabis for inhaling or smoking. The method for extraction using butane gas, however, is extremely dangerous, and has resulted in countless fires and third degree burn victims. It is, needless to say, quite illegal, even for certfified medical users.
When interviewed, Cravea told detectives that cultivating and selling marijuana was his only source of income.
The search also turned up evidence of a connection to a home in Middletown, about 25 miles south of Kelseyville. Another search warrant was obtained, and ten more pounds of processed marijuana was found there. The Middletown location may have been Cravea’s former or other residence – he was arrested in January while living there for being under the influence of a controlled substance. He seems to be something of a nomad, as arrest records also show he lived in Napa in December when arrested by Clearlake CHP for making an unsafe turn, driving with a suspended license, and possession of marijuana while driving. He also claimed a residence of Napa in 2008 when arrested for possession of marijuana and a dangerous weapon. But in 2009 he listed his home as Cobb – a small town between Middletown and Kelseyville – when he was charged with possessing concentrated cannabis, selling, and cultivating marijuana.
Cravea and McClellan were both charged with cultivating marijuana, possession for sale, and manufacturing a controlled substance. Cravea, a single father to a young school age son, was also charged with child endangerment for having the boy in the presence of the dangerous butane lab. Both men were booked into the Hill Road Correctional facility with $100,000 bail.
The next large marijuana bust by Lake County Narcotics detectives happened almost by chance. Brooks says that the next day, Friday October 24, deputies assigned to the “Highway Narcotics Interdiction Detail” were working on Highway 29 in Middletown. A blue van cruising through exhibited vehicle code violations, and deputies initiated a traffic stop. When speaking to the driver, who had one passenger with him, the deputy not only smelled a stong odor of marijuana, but saw that the van had all three passenger seat rows removed, and that it was full of plastic garbage bags and storage containers.
The two men, 31-year-old Heliodoro Castellanos of Lower Lake and 57-year-old Jose Gabriel Pelayo of Clearlake were detained while deputies searched the van. 224 one pound bags of processed marijuana were found in the bags and containers. Apparently trying to convince the deputies he was a good guy, Castellanos said the bags were his, but he was taking them to be thrown away. (He didn’t go into detail about how he would dispose of so much post safely, however.)
Both men were arrested and charged with possession of sale and transportation of marijuana. Pelayo was found to be carrying a small amount of methamphetamine, and was also charged with possession of a controlled substance.
The Lake County Narcotics Task Force continues in their efforts to eradicate illegal drugs and narcotics from the community, and asks anyone with help or an anonymous tip to call 707-263-3663. With two measures to ease the restrictions on marijuana growing in the county defeated in yesterday’s election, the task force should remain a busy unit of the Lake Sheriff’s department.