Mexican cartels or homegrown hoodlums or…? The question of whether the marijuana grows on public lands are manned by Mexican cartels or if those assumptions are based on racist stereotypes is one that has been tossed among locals and even the national media. The recent blitzkrieg of marijuana gardens in the Mendocino National Forest by a variety of federal, state, and county agencies (Operation Full Court Press) offers an opportunity to inform this debate, and make more rational decisions on how to combat a  crime that most of the American public and the local folk wish to see stopped now.

With 132 growers arrested, the opportunity to assess the home addresses of those captured offers valuable data.  Unfortunately, this mass of agencies is difficult to gather information from.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  I’ve searched the internet.  No luck.  I’ve put out questions to CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) officials and received no answer.  However, at least our local Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman did his best to answer my questions. He said,

 As for the arrest statistics, they will not be available anytime soon because of several reasons:

1) Federal arrests are only reported when charges are filed (sometimes 2 years later) [I know I’m not patient but this would strain even Mother Theresa!]

2) Non-federal arrests went to one of the six county jails, depending upon where the arrest was physically made. I am not aware of any single piece of paper that has all of the arrests on it (yet).

I will “guess-timate that the final stat sheet with be ready in 4 weeks but this will NOT have the Federal stats on it.

To answer one of your questions, there were very few local arrests made IN the forest but my bet is that because the investigations are still in process, there may be local arrests as we continue to turn over stones.

I appreciate that these pieces of information are not immediately available but the more we know statistically about who is likely to grow on public lands, the more we can understand and combat the problem.  This recent press release announces that at least 14 of those arrested were “foreign nationals detained on administrative immigration violations”  but other foreign nationals are facing federal or state charges (ie this case in Tehama County where two men from Mexico are the first to be prosecuted as the result of Operation Full Court Press.)

Are most of those arrested foreign nationals?  Are most local growers looking for places to grow that aren’t likely to be tied to them legally?  Are many US Citizens from other areas looking to exploit the rugged backwoods country of Northern California and then return to their own homes? The approaches to ridding the land held in common for all of us from damaging grows could vary depending on who is there.  Let’s get those answers available and allow us all a chance to hash out solutions.