Large Scale Lake County Human Trafficking & Narcotics Investigation
Photo: Drug and weapon evidence collected at arrest | Lake County Sheriff’s Office
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office detectives and deputies assigned to the Roadmap Task Force have recently conducted an extensive investigation into an illegal marijuana production operation that originated in Clearlake Oaks. Over the course of several months, more than twenty locations were investigated following search warrants being authored by detectives and signed by Lake County Superior Court Judges. The search warrants were served in several locations, including Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake, Lower Lake, Kelseyville, Middletown, Sacramento, and West Sacramento.
The investigation led to the discovery of a large, sophisticated chemical manufacturing laboratory in the Middletown area. The laboratory was manufacturing concentrated marijuana, also known as hash oil, using volatile, combustible, and highly flammable chemicals. Over 780 gallons of the chemicals were found on the scene, which were not being safely stored, posing a severe hazard and safety concern to the community. The hazardous materials team safely removed the chemicals later. The laboratory was producing over 200 pounds of hash oil each day, and over 200 pounds of hash oil, 7,000 pounds of processed marijuana, over 600 marijuana plants, and an assault rifle were found on the scene. Detectives and victim’s advocates also identified three victims of forced labor human trafficking, who were provided with resources and services to help them recover from the traumatic conditions they were subjected to.
Further investigations led to the discovery of another location associated with the suspects of the laboratory in the city of Clearlake, where over 11,000 marijuana plants were found. Detectives and victim’s advocates also identified another victim of forced labor human trafficking and provided resources and services to help them recover from the traumatic conditions they faced.
During the service of search warrants at properties associated with the suspects in Sacramento and West Sacramento, over 50,000 cartridges of ammunition were seized, along with over 20 firearms, including several assault rifles. Over 100 pounds of hash oil product from the laboratory, large amounts of packaged processed marijuana bud, and illegal proceeds earned through the unlawful sale of controlled substances were also found. The assets included US currency in excess of $300,000.00.
The investigation is still ongoing, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend their appreciation to the assisting agencies that aided in maintaining the safety of the victims, community, and environment. These agencies include Lake County Victim/Witness advocates, CALFIRE, Lake County Fire Protection District, Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Justice, Sacramento Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Code Enforcement, Clearlake Code Enforcement, and Lake County Environmental Health.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office encourages everyone to report any suspicious activity or possible human trafficking by calling central dispatch (707) 263-2690. For more information and resources on human trafficking, visit humantraffickinghotline.org/en. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the community and will continue to work diligently towards that goal.