[Update 9:30 with Photos] Convoy Yesterday Raided Three Properties in the Rancho Sequoia Area
On May 22, Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant on three properties in the Rancho Sequoia area for the illegal cultivation of marijuana. Deputies were assisted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens and environmental scientists, officials with the State Water Board, CAL FIRE, Humboldt County Code Enforcement and Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services HazMat Division.
Deputies arrested one person in connection with these properties, 37-year-old Hector Merdrano Escalante of Redway.
While serving the warrant, deputies located eight green houses and eradicated 10,609 marijuana plants. These properties did not have permits to cultivate marijuana.
Merdrano Escalante was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on the following charges: felony unauthorized cultivation of marijuana, felony conspiracy to commit a crime, misdemeanor streambed alteration without a permit and misdemeanor depositing hazardous material in or near a waterway. Merdrano Escalante posted bail of $25,000.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists found several violations on the property, as well as Code Enforcement and the State Water Board…
Fish and Wildlife teams may be out there today doing follow up, however we do not have another search warrant in the area today.
UPDATE 9:30 a.m.: Here’s the official press release which gives more information. The information has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:
On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) served two search warrants to investigate the illegal cultivation of marijuana in the area of Rancho Sequoia Drive near Alderpoint. The following agencies assisted the DEU: Wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, CAL Fire law enforcement officers and personnel, specialists from the Humboldt County Environmental Health and HAZMAT Unit, Humboldt County Code Enforcement officers and personnel from the State Water Board.
Three parcels were investigated during the service of the search warrants. Two of the parcels did not possess a commercial cannabis permit with the County of Humboldt and the third parcel’s commercial cannabis application had been withdrawn. The DEU located eight greenhouses during the service of the search warrants. Six of the greenhouses contained grow lights that would enable the greenhouses to cultivate marijuana year-round. Eight subjects were detained during this investigation. Hector Merdrano Escalante, 37, of Redway, was arrested for felony cultivation of marijuana, conspiracy to commit a crime, streambed alteration without a permit and depositing hazardous material in or near a waterway. In total, the DEU located and eradicated 10,609 growing marijuana plants.
CDFW biologists located the following environmental violations during their investigation:
Four sediment delivery water pollution violations
One deposition of trash into a stream violation
One stream alteration violation
One water diversion violation
Humboldt County Code Enforcement officers located the following violations during their investigation:
Grading without a permit
Building without a permit
Commercial marijuana ordinance violations
Development in a streamside management area without a permit
Unapproved sewage disposal system
Improper storage and removal of solid waste
The HAZMAT Unit located the following violations during their investigation:
Failure to file a HAZMAT business plan
No spill prevention countermeasures and control plan
No secondary containment measures
Failure to prevent the release of hazardous material
Discharging hazardous waste to soil
No lids or labels on hazardous waste containers
Unauthorized hazardous waste storage
Mismanagement of lead/acid batteries
No EPA ID numbers
HAZMAT personnel located 1,900 gallons of diesel fuel and 220 gallons of waste oil stored on one of the parcels.
State Water Board personnel located the following violations during their investigation:
Excavation of a watercourse
No regional board report regarding discharge
Discharge without regional board report
Multiple basin plan violations
All criminal violations stemming from the marijuana cultivation investigation will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for review. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office maintains a cooperative relationship with all agencies that participated in this investigation. All future investigations into non-compliant marijuana operations will continue to be investigated in this manner.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.