“Federal, State, & Local Counter-Drug Raids Monday thru Friday Yield Big Results”
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department published this thorough press release concerning recent drug raids in their county –
“On Monday, August 31 thru Friday, September 4, 2020, the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), in partnership with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) and several other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies conducted a series of counter-drug raids in Siskiyou County, which netted 31,696 illicit marijuana plants, 3,305 pounds of processed marijuana, five firearms, and suspected drug currency. 52 search warrants were seized during the week in various parts of the county, including Butte Valley (Red Rock, Antelope area, Pleasant Valley Highland Estates) and Mount Shasta Vista. Six drug trafficking suspects were arrested and later cited and released into the local Siskiyou County Superior Court.
The operation, including DOJ and CAMP resources from outside the county, included a major federal, state, and local effort. The week-long operation included DOJ, CAMP, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Forest Service (USFS), SCSO (Jail, Detective, Field, and Dispatch), California Highway Patrol, Agents from the North State Major Investigation Team (NSMIT), Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Investigation Team (SIMIT), California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, Etna Police Department (NSMIT), and robust support from the California Army and Air National Guard (Counter Drug Unit). The Siskiyou County Public Works Department and Siskiyou County Planning Department (code enforcement) provided assistance and support during the search warrant operations.
Many of the illegal plants confiscated were maturing with budded flowers, which indicates many of the plants were close to harvest or in the final stages of being processed for packaging, transportation, and illegal sales. Some marijuana product was recovered while hanging, prior to trimming and packaging. When plants are harvested finished product is processed, trimmed, packaged, and typically transported across state lines for illegal sale to a multitude of community buyers throughout the nation, as evidenced by the large seizure of illegal marijuana plants and harvested cannabis product, an amount that far exceeds any legitimate recreational or medicinal usage exemption.
SCSO’s Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Team is a drug task force that primarily enforces current county ordinances and state law that relates to illicit marijuana drug trafficking on private property areas of the county. NSMIT is a drug task force that is led by the California DOJ t of Justice (CA DOJ) and its orientation is regional in nature, but the team spends time in Siskiyou County, enforcing drug laws and the team addresses violent crime and weapons-related offenses. Siskiyou County was designated a HIDTA county several years ago by the United States Department of Justice at the request of SCSO’s management team. Siskiyou County is a member of the Central Valley HIDTA since many drug trafficking networks in the region have links to areas in the Central Valley of California, such as Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Siskiyou, and Trinity Counties.
The estimated value of the seized plant’s and harvested cannabis product was significant for one-week’s work. The 31,696 illegal plants seized, based on an average 3-pound yield per plant, ranges in value from $95.0 million to $285.3 million on the wholesale and retail illicit East Coast drug market, respectively. The finished marijuana product that was recovered harvested ranges in value from $3.3 million (wholesale) to $9.9 million (retail), on the East Coast drug marker.
Siskiyou County officials have enacted an ordinance that prohibits all outdoor marijuana cultivation in county areas and growers are limited to 12-plants inside an approved structure, for medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana possession on private property, pursuant to Prop 64, is limited to six marijuana plants, per parcel, which may be grown in a residence or other approved, enclosed structure (adults only). A recent county ordinance has been enacted to help mitigate the overwhelming illegal marijuana problem in the county and address countless “quality of life” issues plaguing impacted neighborhoods. Fines have been increased to address building, sewer, water, refuse, and illegal marijuana-related violations, including a $5,000.00 a day assessment possible for repeated violations. SCSO is working closely with county code enforcement to enhance the overall enforcement methods used to criminally and civilly attack the overwhelming illicit marijuana problem in Siskiyou County. Current county ordinances have been enacted or in-progress that restrict watershed transfers of water from farms and ranches to illicit marijuana gardens, many of which must import water due to the lack of wells in many of the grow areas.
The proliferation of illicit marijuana cultivation sites has continued to endanger people, harm the environment, and promote a major interstate drug trafficking industry originating from within the county, as evidenced by this large seizure operation and the cumulative totals so far this year. Dangers associated with the proliferation of marijuana have proven to be particularly harmful to children and the environment. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a new “Local State of Emergency” because of the potentially devastating impacts that illicit marijuana cultivation sites, organized drug trafficking organizations, and their associates are exacting on the county and its citizenry, including critical public health, social welfare, justice, and environmental clean-up costs and related challenges.
Marijuana-related activities have been linked to county murders during 2019 and a murder at a marijuana site last week is still under investigation by the SCSO’s Major Crimes Unit. Marijuana sites and/or use have been linked to other deaths, including carbon monoxide poisonings, suicides, and traffic fatalities within the county. Fire dangers are also very evident in most of these illegal grow sites, which during the current drought conditions experienced by much of the county, is particularly alarming.
According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “This week was a highly productive week because we worked with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in a highly ambitious week-long operation. This was a massive operation that was very cost-effective for the county, since funding for the operation came from CAMP, DOJ, and the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication Support Program (DCESP) funding, which was solicited and generously provided by the federal government. Additional funds were received from Central Valley HIDTA, which were derived from federal allocations. The illegal marijuana seizures, suspected drug money, guns, and involved perpetrators are strong indicators we are again seeing an organized, well-financed, and pervasive illicit marijuana trafficking industry emerging in our county. Thanks to the federal, state, and local partnerships, we made great progress this week and more counter-drug operations are planned in the future. We will easily triple illicit drug seizures from 2019 and we are not slowing down. I cannot say enough about the outstanding teamwork and support that was evident all week by our numerous federal, state, and local partners, many of whom traveled from other counties and regions of the state to assist us with these major counter-drug operations. This is difficult, dangerous, and challenging work and we owe our gratitude to all participating agencies and their members. 52 search warrants in one week equals a tremendous amount of hard work and determination on the part of all involved.”
Anyone with information about illegal marijuana cultivation operations in their county neighborhoods or the cases subject to these recent counter-drug operations is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900. Complaints concerning “quality of life” issues such as building, water, sewage, or refuse should be directed to the Siskiyou County Community Development office at (530) 841-2100.
“Federal, State, & Local Counter-Drug Raids Monday thru Friday Yield Big Results” was last modified: September 18th, 2020 by