A Closer Look at One Recent Bust


Guest Post by Skippy Massey:

AS THE DINSMORE case of 39 arrests unfold and the Feds grind down the legal and California-compliant 99-plant Northstone Organics Cooperative, Humboldt officials, meanwhile, are looking at a surprisingly quick and amenable resolve for another bust– only 10 days after the initial arrests.

HERE’s an update of that other massive grow, the Hydesville/Bridgeville bust:

STANISLAW Kopiej, the alleged operator of a $1 million major marijuana grow operation in Hydesville, entered into a plea agreement Friday, October 28, in Humboldt Superior Court under which he will receive probation and forfeit $175,000 in cash. 425 pounds of dried marijuana, 400 growing marijuana plants in outdoor greenhouses, seven firearms, and the cash were found on his property on October 19.

KOPIEJ, represented by Eureka attorney Patrick Griego of the highly-powered Janssen, Needham, Malloy Morrison, Reinholtsen, Crowley, and Griego law firm, pleaded no contest to a single count of maintaining a residence for the purpose of manufacturing, storing or distributing marijuana with a firearm. The stipulated plea will land Kopiej on probation. The charge normally carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. He will have to register as a narcotics offender and complete more than 950 hours of community service if the plea agreement is approved by the sentencing judge.

IF APPROVED, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office will dismiss felony charges of possessing marijuana for sale and cultivation, and child endangerment. Kopiej’s bail, originally set at $400,000, was reduced by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson last Monday. After posting bail in the lowered amount of $250,000, Kopiej remains free. He’s scheduled to be sentenced November 28.

HIS WIFE, a pair of Thai refugees, a 50-year-old Thai woman in the country on a tourist visa, and four others have yet to be arraigned in the case. They are scheduled to make their first court appearance in November.

THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE claimed Kopiej’s cannabis operation was linked to another grow in Bridgeville by Thomas “Taco” Morgan, a naturalized US citizen of Bulgarian descent. Deputies believing he was involved in Kopiej’s operation searched Morgan’s Bridgeville property finding an additional 250 pounds of dried marijuana, $40,000 in cash and a handgun. Authorities arrested a total of seven people, some of whom were foreign nationals from Bulgaria and Ukraine– and now have immigration holds placed on them by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ARCATA attorney Jeffrey Schwartz maintains the majority of these individuals were merely trimmers for Morgan’s expansive grow. Eureka defense attorney Neal Sanders maintains his client has “little or no connection” to the operation. “She came and visited a friend and all this happened,” Sanders simply said. Morgan himself posted $75,000 bail shortly after his arrest and is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 17.

HOWEVER, prosecutors filed Kopiej’s and Morgan’s cases separately– and curiously enough didn’t file conspiracy charges linking the two. Apparently, prosecutors either can’t prove a connection or they simply weren’t connected. As of last week the Sheriff’s Office said “it’s still investigating whether the two growing operations were connected to international drug trafficking organizations,” said Sheriff’s Office Lt. Dave Morey.

The moral of the story? Grow big, hire a good lawyer, forfeit lots of cash, and hope for overworked investigators and an overloaded court docket crowding the field.

(information for this article was sourced from reports by the Humboldt Beacon and Thadeus Greenson’s Times-Standard articles of October 25 and 29, 2011)

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24 comments

  • This is truly an open invitation for people around the world to come here and blow it up. Just go BIG. Don’t go small. You need to have enough money to pay off I mean forfeit part of your proceeds. Amazing the guy doesn’t even get the old token 90 days in County Jail. I’m no fan of jail time but seriously, with no deterrent whatsoever, this is a big invite for all. So… C’mon to Humboldt- go B-I-G! We are open for business!

  • This is truly an open invitation for people around the world to come here and blow it up. Just go BIG. Don’t go small. You need to have enough money to pay off I mean forfeit part of your proceeds. Amazing the guy doesn’t even get the old token 90 days in County Jail. I’m no fan of jail time but seriously, with no deterrent whatsoever, this is a big invite for all. So… C’mon to Humboldt- go B-I-G! We are open for business!

  • NFA, we can all see it’s obvious even without saying so out loud.

    I’m really glad Gallegos is talking about the sick environmental damage apart from cultivation (on KMUD news last Friday)–next step is enforcing laws, dammit! Hmm, I guess I’m not kidding . . .

  • NFA, we can all see it’s obvious even without saying so out loud.

    I’m really glad Gallegos is talking about the sick environmental damage apart from cultivation (on KMUD news last Friday)–next step is enforcing laws, dammit! Hmm, I guess I’m not kidding . . .

  • Considering the size of the grow, that seems like a very light sentence, even for Humboldt. Makes me wonder if there’s another part of the story that we’re not hearing? For instance, I wonder if the investigators may have determined that this guy was not the top dog in this operation, and they’re treating him with leniency in exchange for his cooperation in going after those who are further up the hierarchy? Just a thought.

  • Considering the size of the grow, that seems like a very light sentence, even for Humboldt. Makes me wonder if there’s another part of the story that we’re not hearing? For instance, I wonder if the investigators may have determined that this guy was not the top dog in this operation, and they’re treating him with leniency in exchange for his cooperation in going after those who are further up the hierarchy? Just a thought.

  • I think you hit the old nail on the head Tra.

    I can hear Monty Hall’s voice in the background opening the flood gates for mega grow operations.

  • I think you hit the old nail on the head Tra.

    I can hear Monty Hall’s voice in the background opening the flood gates for mega grow operations.

  • Hmmm ….. I’ll wait to hear the rest of the story. Kim keep on keep’n up.

  • Hmmm ….. I’ll wait to hear the rest of the story. Kim keep on keep’n up.

  • The picture of the Bud with the red hairs. What strain is that ? What do you call that one ? It looks beautiful

    • According to the grower, it is a variant of OG Kush–several plants from the seeds threw magenta hairs. I think it is one of the prettiest that I’ve gotten the privilege to photograph. And some had purple leaves on the buds.

  • The picture of the Bud with the red hairs. What strain is that ? What do you call that one ? It looks beautiful

    • According to the grower, it is a variant of OG Kush–several plants from the seeds threw magenta hairs. I think it is one of the prettiest that I’ve gotten the privilege to photograph. And some had purple leaves on the buds.

  • The picture of the Bud with the red hairs up top, What do you call that strain ? it looks good.

  • The picture of the Bud with the red hairs up top, What do you call that strain ? it looks good.

  • Planning Commissioner Denver Nelson agrees with us 100 percent. His piece in today’s Times-Standard concludes:

    My advice to marijuana growers in Humboldt County who are attempting to grow in a legal and environmentally responsible manner; go back to the old ways of growing huge numbers of plants for vast amounts of money. Your income will be much greater and the chances of you going to jail will be about the same or maybe even less. Just make sure that it isn’t the feds who arrest you. Crime does pay.

    All I can say is, please try to keep it quiet . . .

    http://www.times-standard.com/guest_opinion/ci_19246332

  • Planning Commissioner Denver Nelson agrees with us 100 percent. His piece in today’s Times-Standard concludes:

    My advice to marijuana growers in Humboldt County who are attempting to grow in a legal and environmentally responsible manner; go back to the old ways of growing huge numbers of plants for vast amounts of money. Your income will be much greater and the chances of you going to jail will be about the same or maybe even less. Just make sure that it isn’t the feds who arrest you. Crime does pay.

    All I can say is, please try to keep it quiet . . .

    http://www.times-standard.com/guest_opinion/ci_19246332

  • Tra, you nailed it. Longwind,you have a good eye. Shhh…

    Perhaps we’re turning another page in the history of Humboldt?

    Back in the day Mom ‘n Pop grew for themselves as Back- to-the-Landers, just getting by and selling a pound or two to their Bay Area friends to meet with the expenses . The fresh pungent smell of Mom ‘n Pop’s Humboldt sinsemilla easily beat the brown pulverized leaves, stems, and seeds of those crappy $10 Mexican lids smuggled over the border and laced with paraquat.

    It was a no brainer. Supply and demand skyrocketed. In time came more money, more expansive open grows, fenced off property, rip offs, and more than a few people disappearing– or murdered. Mom ‘n Pop’s little garden grow got whisked aside in favor of the next era of hard drugs, bikers, larger guns and bigger booby traps taking the place of chicken wire. Still larger operations, generators and diesel and pollution, lights and hydro and pumps, water diversions and coils of black plastic pipe and paranoia came along with the next generation of young out-of state-strangers, kids, the assorted parolees and vagabonds seeking to cash in on the newest gold rush within a newly tolerable and mild political climate.

    10 pounds of weed used to be a lot ‘back in the day.’ Today, 100 is the new normal– with all the cash, big trucks, ATVs and other newly bought toys going along with it. “We don’t take vacations to Benbow,” one successful grower said, “we go to Bali.”

    As the ‘industry’ spirals forward and flirts with an almost legal legitimacy, one wonders if we’re witnessing yet another new chapter of weed transition for Humboldt: still larger and illegal grows and the arrival of a few foreign folks onto the scene: Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Thai, French, Canadian, and Australian, who, perhaps, may be more likely at risk of being deported depending on their status– rather than doing hard time.

  • Tra, you nailed it. Longwind,you have a good eye. Shhh…

    Perhaps we’re turning another page in the history of Humboldt?

    Back in the day Mom ‘n Pop grew for themselves as Back- to-the-Landers, just getting by and selling a pound or two to their Bay Area friends to meet with the expenses . The fresh pungent smell of Mom ‘n Pop’s Humboldt sinsemilla easily beat the brown pulverized leaves, stems, and seeds of those crappy $10 Mexican lids smuggled over the border and laced with paraquat.

    It was a no brainer. Supply and demand skyrocketed. In time came more money, more expansive open grows, fenced off property, rip offs, and more than a few people disappearing– or murdered. Mom ‘n Pop’s little garden grow got whisked aside in favor of the next era of hard drugs, bikers, larger guns and bigger booby traps taking the place of chicken wire. Still larger operations, generators and diesel and pollution, lights and hydro and pumps, water diversions and coils of black plastic pipe and paranoia came along with the next generation of young out-of state-strangers, kids, the assorted parolees and vagabonds seeking to cash in on the newest gold rush within a newly tolerable and mild political climate.

    10 pounds of weed used to be a lot ‘back in the day.’ Today, 100 is the new normal– with all the cash, big trucks, ATVs and other newly bought toys going along with it. “We don’t take vacations to Benbow,” one successful grower said, “we go to Bali.”

    As the ‘industry’ spirals forward and flirts with an almost legal legitimacy, one wonders if we’re witnessing yet another new chapter of weed transition for Humboldt: still larger and illegal grows and the arrival of a few foreign folks onto the scene: Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Thai, French, Canadian, and Australian, who, perhaps, may be more likely at risk of being deported depending on their status– rather than doing hard time.

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