Six Arrested During Raids in Southern Humboldt
Top Row from left to right: BRADLEY EUGENE NYSTROM,
MICHAEL JAMES ROSS, and
KONSTANTIN BULATOVICH APSALYAMOV
Bottom row from left to right:
BOGDAN VASILEV HRISTOV,
YORDAN DIANOV DIANOV, and
ANTON KOSTADINOV SKACHEV
The Department of Fish and Wildlife arrested six men at four grow sites last week in Southern Humboldt for felony charges relating to the cultivation of marijuana and possession for sales. In addition several were also arrested for possession of a firearm while committing a felony.
The grows eradicated ranged from 300 to a couple of thousand plants, explained Lieutenant DeWayne Little of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We chose the sites among many other possibilities for having significant environmental damage whether it be grading, stream obstructions, stream crossing, stream diversion and potential sediment discharge and other forms of pollution,” he said
After what Little characterized as “multiple complaints,” his agency looked into these grows located in the Redwood Creek and Miller Creek watersheds. “We saw significant manipulation of the land in proximity to stream courses along with cultivation sites,” Little said.
“Redwood Creek is a critical watershed,” the lieutenant noted. “It is one of our priority watersheds.” A recent study documented “dead coho salmon and steelhead in China Creek (a tributary to Redwood Creek…), a watershed highly impacted by marijuana-related water diversions.”
Little said that “search warrants were drafted and executed to investigate potential threat to the environment. …[T]he subjects didn’t possess permits from the Waterboard, County or Fish and Wildlife. …The morning of, we double checked with the county to make sure none of these growers had enrolled in the process.”
Fish and Wildlife wants to work with those in the permitting process, Little said. “[E]very effort is made to work with permitting agencies to seek compliance of growers first.”
However, Little said, “We are finding that some growers are using the permitting process as a delaying tactic to continue cultivating and manipulating the land in egregious ways while hoping to get a crop off without law enforcement’s presence.”
This, he said, will not be tolerated by his agency. “If we see significant alteration to the land or diversion of waterways outside the scope of their permit, they are not immune from law enforcement investigation [even if they are in the permitting process.]”
One of the growers arrested last week, Little declined to name him saying the investigation was still ongoing, was allegedly caught red-handed damaging a waterway. “It is hideous what he is doing,” Little said. “We caught him with a dozer operator pushing fill into a creek. He had no permits from anybody and there was going to be a significant amount of runoff.”
Several neighbors, Little said, afterwards told Fish and Wildlife officers that they were glad he had been stopped. “[But] nobody called about this guy… . ”
He urged people to contact his department with concerns about damage being caused in their communities. “If someone calls me and tells me about a serious issue, whether that be a grower or a poacher, I will protect their anonymity,” he stated. “An anonymous phone call to our Caltip program is going to go miles.”
The raids at these four grows will not solve the problems in the Redwood Creek area.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg of addressing the problem in the watershed,” Little said. “Dealing with just four situations is not going to solve the problem of the watershed. [But,] at least it sends the message that we are looking into the problems of the watershed and we may be back in the future.”