YREKA, Calif. — A series of eight raids conducted over the space of a single day resulted in the seizure of more than 4,600 illegal marijuana plants, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office (SCSO). Perhaps more importantly, local deputies and detectives were accompanied this time by state officials and members of the California Army National Guard.
The operation began on Friday, June 7 as the Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Investigation Team (SIMIT) descended with search warrants on eight separate grow sites in the Big Springs area southeast of Montague — seizing 4,658 plants, 176 pounds of processed marijuana, four guns, eight generators, and three water pumps.
Those plans, if left to mature, are estimated to be worth between $27.9 and $41.9 million on the black market.
"Combining May 2019 enforcement totals, SIMIT has seized 11,446 illegal marijuana plants in May and June. Two persons were located at the sites and charges are pending in those cases," the Sheriff's Office said.
This time, local law enforcement was accompanied by officials from Governor Gavin Newsom's staff and a Major General with the National Guard. Troops from the Guard also assisted with the raids.
Siskiyou County is something of a special case in California. A county ordinance prohibits any and all outdoor cannabis growth. Recreational cannabis is limited to six plants grown indoors, while medical cannabis users can grow up to 12 plants, also indoors.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors recently voted to extend their Local State of Emergency proclamation, which designates illicit marijuana in the county as a "major threat to the public health and safety of citizens."
"The proliferation of illicit marijuana cultivation sites has endangered people, harmed the environment, and promoted a major interstate drug trafficking industry originating from within the county," the Sheriff's Office said. "Illicit marijuana cultivation sites in the county, both on public and private lands have presented a threat to watersheds, fish and wildlife, and has contributed to chronic quality of life and fire hazard-related challenges in several county communities. Marijuana-related activities have been linked to deaths, including carbon monoxide poisonings and traffic fatalities within the county."
SCSO helps to conduct the DARE program (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) at schools in the county in an effort to keep youth away from marijuana, "one of the most serious threats associated with the increase in its production."
"While we respect an adult’s right to legally consume medical or recreational marijuana under current state law, the large quantities of marijuana seized in commercial quantities in these recent operations have nothing to do with recreational or medicinal drugs but have everything to do with illicit drug trafficking, which adversely impacts public health, safety, our environment, and the quality of life in our own state, county, and many other jurisdictions, since our intelligence sources tell us most of the illicit drugs are being exported out of our state,” said Sheriff Jon Lopey.