More Than $3 Million in Cash Seized at One Spot During Raids

Convoy gathering at Cal Fire station above Garberville

On April 30, a law enforcement convoy gathered at the Cal Fire station above Garberville before heading out to Miller Creek. [Photo provided by a reader]

Information from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

On April 30 and May 1, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued citations for more than 50 violations at four unregulated cannabis cultivation sites after executing search warrants in Humboldt County.

CDFW, which works collaboratively with local law enforcement and others to investigate and enforce environmental damage related to cannabis cultivation, inspected the sites and found violations of the state Fish and Game Code, including impacts to watersheds critical to three federally listed salmonid species. The violations included streambed alteration, illegal water diversion and water pollution.

In addition, law enforcement officers found violations related to illegal cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale, and conspiring to commit a crime.

“The department’s law enforcement efforts focus on protection of our natural resources,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Each of these non-permitted cannabis cultivation sites was in gross violation of several laws in place to protect the State of California’s fish, wildlife and their habitats.”

None of the four sites inspected had permits, and all were operating outside of the local and state permitting process. The California Department of Food and Agriculture permits cannabis cultivation sites in the state. Humboldt County permits cultivation sites in the county.

The first site searched was in the Miller Creek area, a watershed that is deemed a priority for three federally listed salmonid species (including coho, which is also state listed). One property had eight structures growing marijuana plants without claim of medical or paperwork for legal commercial cannabis operation.

CDFW inspected the property and discovered several violations relating to the growing operation. Staff found 20 violations of Fish and Game Code related to detrimental environmental impacts to fish, wildlife and habitat, and additional Health and Safety Code and Penal Code violations related to the illegal cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale, and conspiring to commit a crime.

VIELMA

VIELMA

The inspection teams eradicated 1,714 plants, and destroyed more than 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana. During the search, more than $3 million in cash was discovered and seized for asset forfeiture.

Jesus Olea Vielma, 31, of Fortuna was taken into custody and booked into jail.

At the second site in the China Creek area, one property was found with eight plastic covered buildings growing marijuana plants inside without claim of medical or paperwork for legal commercial cannabis operation. CDFW inspected the property and found six violations of Fish and Game Code, and the same Health and Safety code and Penal code violations listed above. Inspection teams eradicated 5,177 plants and destroyed approximately 43 pounds of processed marijuana.

Ruvalcaba

Ruvalcaba

Alejandro Navarro Ruvalcaba, 43, of Garberville was booked into jail.

The third site searched is in the Blue Slide Creek area, a high priority due to the watershed containing coho and Chinook salmon, and steelhead trout. Records show the property began the permit process in 2016 with Humboldt County but never completed the application. Inspection teams found five grow houses with marijuana plants. No medical or legal commercial cannabis paperwork was on site. CDFW found six violations of Fish and Game Code, and the same Health and Safety code and Penal code violations. These growers were using a direct water diversion from Blue Slide Creek. Teams destroyed 1,276 marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed marijuana.

PAULSIN

PAULSIN

William Bert Paulsin, 59, of Hemet was booked into jail.

At the final site, also on Blue Slide Creek, one large structure had marijuana plants growing inside. No medical or legal commercial cannabis paperwork was on site. CDFW found 22 violations of Fish and Game Code, and the same Health and Safety code and Penal code violations. The growers had constructed several large ponds onsite. Teams destroyed 301 marijuana plants and 203 pounds of processed marijuana.

State and local efforts to eliminate illegal and environmentally harmful operations like these helps legal cannabis cultivators thrive in this newly regulated industry. CDFW will continue working with Humboldt County and other local entities to address non-permitted grow sites.

The affected creeks are heavily impacted by cannabis cultivation and their watersheds are very important to salmonid recovery efforts. Californians have made investments through the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program to restore salmon and steelhead populations in these watersheds.

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69 comments

  • Losing three million bucks. Whoa, that’s rough.

  • Uh where does this seized money go? Obviously evidence until those responsible are tried, but after? Can it come back to the community and environment it was taken from? In the form of grants or??

    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_forfeiture_in_the_United_States
      This is a good read.

      HCSO keeps the money they seize. More men and equipment.

      • Still, the process of keeping the funds seized is long and time consuming. With different agencies involved, it must get divided up amongst the agencies, you think?

        It would be neat to see an open book on cash seized and how it is expended.

        In just the last year or so, was there not some concern on how seized property was being purchased by local law enforcement and those with personal connections at low costs?

        I agree with “Mom’s” above post, it would be neat if these funds were offered as grants back to the community, after all, it most likely came from the community in the first place.

        This would be an excellent resource for addressing some of the community homeless issues with employment and improved housing – just an idea. Sure others have their own ideas.

        • Why not put it back into restoring the environment it destroyed ….

          • Waste, Sillymeme, the environment isn’t “destroyed”, it’ll come back on it’s own. It’s not like it’s a national park there, give it some time. Enough virtue signaling Ok, maybe fill-in the ponds and remove the water flow diversion.

      • You’d think with 3 mil we could have 24/7 patrol in SoHum and a few more resident deputies for our rural areas

    • $3mil might fix a few roads.

    • Thats cute. We wish.

  • Just another mom and pop place going broke because the cost of a pound is too low ( bye bye $3,000,000.oo +, going to buy some nice boots and more black SUV’s for the CAMP guys )

  • three mill, greedy mother fucker should have got out long ago,,,,what do you want to bet he was sleeping in a visqueen palace , shitin in a bucket next to the loot stuffed in black garbage bags.

    • You can bet that was just one olive barrel dug up as a hedge against this down market.

    • This is funny, because I already heard of this bust a week ago through the “grapevine”. I was told it was 4 million and 1001 lbs seized! Oh well. Easy come,easy go. Idiots for keeping all that cash in one spot…. should have just left 100,000 for “bait” money and buried the rest

  • That’s a good chunk , but realistically that ain’t all dude has , that is what he had there when they rolled up on him , there is so much in humb and mendo that is in “the bank of the earth” . I knew one dude in Myers flat that forgot where he burried 700k and gold and had to dig up a area for 3 weeks before located lol 😂. I watched him and laughed as he panicked . If someone got a start in humb or mendo in last 5-10 years and is intelligent enough ,had a good work ethic and can stay of the hard shit they can set them selves up nicely . Some just don’t know when to say when .

  • Crowd of fools

    I have never understood why large sums of money are left out like that. If I was in the biz I would have it hidden away somewhere.

  • For the law to hit someone like that and happen to have the 3 mill where it could be found in a search tells me there was prolly a confidential informant(s) to tip off buy money to the laws .

    • Humboldt has generations of narcs living here. Pot is baseline currency in all kinds of other covert law enforcement ops everywhere.

  • Hold the cash until someone is convicted of environmental violations, then keep the money for restoring the sites.

  • What’s the purpose behind bust articles that boast about the amounts of money busted? All the busts do this, in all categories. It’s nothing but free adverts to entice more criminals into the criminality career. The more criminals we have, the more taxes we can raise for more enforcers. At least eventually we’ll all have one career or the other I suppose.

    • In a 40 year failed war, the famed “Drugs on the Table” press release is the only way police dept’s, DEA, arms of the CIA and increasingly NSA can justify their existence. Indeed most law enforcement grants like for the above MWRAP are awarded based on monies and inflated values of illicit substance seized. There’s no national grant for a police dep’t closing every dust covered decade old yet open rape case, but shove your fat fingers in enough junkies pockets and come on down you’ve just won a tank to get you safely inside the next grow house.

  • Should’ve done these kinda raids 10 years ago…it would’ve helped everybody and our community and rivers. But they let it all blow up so they could sell us their corporate “legalization” as a safety issue. Corporate grab and now the cleanup begins. Don’t think they won’t bring it to Mom n Pop too. Anybody who couldn’t afford a permit is now the enemy.

  • Elijah Diddit

    “The inspection teams eradicated 1,714 plants, and destroyed more than 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana. During the search, more than $3 million in cash was discovered and seized for asset forfeiture.”

    So THIS is why we can’t get the police to do anything about transient crime. They just want the big money crimes so they can get richer.

  • It really sucks that these guys are just the workers and make very little

  • Police should just be paid by the bounty they can locate – this time 3 mil and thousands of pounds. Almost like mercenaries. That’ll get em off their asses

    • The police know where a lot of these grows are. They know the neighborhood grows. There’s just a limit as to how much return there is for cost of the raid. To quote Gilbert and Sullivan – “He’s got ’em on the list — he’s got ’em on the list;
      And they’ll none of ’em be missed — they’ll none of ’em be missed.”

    • There was other things they took I heard through the grapevine.
      That would make them completely corrupt which is what I thought all along.
      Much like the corrupt Trump administration..
      I hate to say it but they are complete dirtbags that the FBI needs to investigate, except the current administration is corrupt.

      • Yea cuz it’s hasn’t been curruot this whole time..

      • Yeah and Hillary’s all good…lol .what a joke

        • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

          At least Hillary isn’t a lying pervert like Traitor Trump desperately trying to please [edit] Putin in exchange for Russia refraining from releasing all that financial dirt & dirty video. 💵📼🇷🇺

      • The law says that they can seize everything on site. It’s supposed to be a DETERRENT. That means that it is a punishment that outweighs your willingness to commit the crime. If you still take the chance, then you might lose all your shit. That simple. When did you get the genius idea that you get to keep all the items you used to facillitate your criminal grow after you get busted?? All this whining about corrupt cops is super funny. If you’re so worried about corruption, maybe you should start with the CRIMINALS! Do it legally, or take your chances, and your lumps like a boss instead of a b**ch.

  • Fabio Fashionista

    3 million dollars and you get busted in some ratty ass looking shirt! Geez if I had cash like that I’d be tending to my plants in an Armani silk suit, but as we know Humboldt has always been behind when it comes to style and fashion.

  • this article forshadows the new environmentalist mantras that will be used to justify permitted cannabis culture.
    A permit doesn’t negate decades of criminal culturing and cash induced social arrogance.
    These boys are just like the boys on any permitted grow. Let’s not make believe they are so evil compared to our more clever and shmoozy legal growers.

    • The cops stole a ton of money.
      They are completely corrupt.

      If the fbi is worth a shit they will punish them.

    • Um, except they have to follow a lot of rules concerning water usage and polluting critical streams, and tons of others. They are also subject to inspection. So, not like the boys on permitted grows.
      Poisonous algae blooms that have made our rivers toxic dont negate decades of criminal weed culturing and induced grower arrogance. Let’s not make believe that these losers’ careless disregard for our watersheds and wildlife in pursuit of their own capitalist venture, is anywhere near as heavenly as our more cleverly responsible and above-the-board LEGAL growers.

  • Where’s honeydew bridge chumps comment? I’m waiting lol …

    • HBC is evidently tending to this years crop!!! He may come off as being Anti Cannabis but every year around Harvest Time he disappears< then around the end of it he reappears!!! Not to mention in Spring when it's time to start a new crop, no CHUMP in sight then either!!! Which leads me to the conclusion the CHUMP is as full crap as a DOZEN Xmas Geese!!! That's my $.02 worth & I'm sticking to it!!!

      • Oh no. Chump means everything he says. He has researched and investigated every possible angle and only brings you the most current results of his very scientific studies. If you choose to disagree it is probably the result of your fixation with the devil’s lettuce. The Chump does not lie or jest!!

  • 3 million dollars my GOD what the hell kind of operation did this guy have must be nice to make that kind of money of pot Christ i mean what more does a guy want

  • Mendocino Mamma

    Give it to the Mateel! 😙 In this scenario I imagine that’s just what they discovered! Bet that a lot more was around. That was mearly their pocket change!

  • Tre mill on da hill! Jesus is still performing miracles

  • Incredible! wonder who he knows? Jesus
    How can we as a community get to say what they do with that dough? Can we give it back to the salmon? Or the old growth redwood trees? Or the homeless problem? Or the coroners who deal with missing people and drug addiction overdose? To hungry people? Or to our schools and to the children?

  • Well said mamma, i was just thinking the same.. adopt some debt and buy our mateel back… lol we dont need any more jackboots and tazers in the woods.
    Now then…🤔
    After the debts are paid, there should be at least enough left to buy me a ticket back in time to an 80s ROTR a nice, soft, rock free and heavily shaded site crew camp spot tucked waaay up in the bushes and a supersized rasta pasta (nom-nom) to share with that cute girl from the bay area that i met and spent some quality nights… er.. time with, what pitching tents and all… (also nom-nom😄) never did ask her name..d’oht!…
    Oh, and buy that one guy on here the armored and armed bull dozer hes always talkin bout….
    Get Charlie his open book and connie her roads…
    Buy silver his FBI investigation into corruption…
    Buy Canyon his new environmentalist mantras….
    And get fabio his silk armani gardening suit.
    And buy the sherwood some paid advertising on everyones favorite local news and information website..😉
    And get Kym whatever she wants cus she deserves it..
    An anyone elses wishlist too
    Ho ho ho
    And to all a good night!

  • Has it dawned on anyone that this kind of return is common to the large grows.? That is the reason for the huge influx of essentially criminal organizations equipped with lawyers, guns and money that now dominate the pot industry here.. I once found a bank slip in town that showed a $107,000 checking balance.. The week before, I found a slip with a $96,000 balance.. Just tossed on the sidewalk.. We have dozens, if not hundreds of these operations here..

  • PickelBarrelBandit

    What a loss! The amount of oxygen those plants would have produced for inhabitants of this planet is irreplaceable and worth more then the hateful lives lived that would ever cut them down.
    And using a fish to get their stinky feet in the door is another Adolf Hitler tactic but those are practiced daily by all of our officials so no surprise its become the norm.

    One has got to feel a bit dumbfounded when you could have bought a pickel barrel at daysies for 20 bucks to stash all that cash in then bury it in the woods instead of letting the law have it only to claim half the amount found.

    So bottom line! If your growing without the cheesy stack of ligitimizing paperwork to accompany your grow, then pick up a pickel barrel to hide the paperwork in! Dont be a knucklehead like this guy was!

  • Doesn’t anybody get the new game here? All the fines are attached to the parcel- not the person. So they just ditch the parcel! It paid for itself many times over already, it now has major fines attached and it is worthless. County takes possession and finds itself with a parcel now removed from the tax base and unsellable because it has diesel spills, toxic garbage burial and other problems…..Meanwhile with “legalization” the people arrested get off with minimal charges, no jail time and they go dig up their other money and live just fine. It’s almost like the county never even though ahead as to how the criminal growers would play this next level of the game. Perhaps when the county own a few hundred worthless, blown-out properties they will understand how stupid they really are. They again followed a strategy that punishes small people while rewarding the biggest and foulest. It’s almost like they don’t even try to understand the criminal or outlaw way of thinking…

  • Willow creek local

    More like the [edit] found 5 million and reported 3 million. GREAT JOB LEO!!!

  • Use the money towards the restoration of damage they caused to the enviroment because of greed

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