Deputy Ill After Possible Exposure to Banned Pesticide on Marijuana Grow
On Friday July 13th, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Eradication Team (C.O.M.M.E.T.) were assisting Wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with the service of a search warrant at a residence in the 13500 block of Kenny Creek Road in Branscomb. The purpose of the search warrant was to address a marijuana growing operation that involved suspected environmental crimes. These crimes included the illegal diversion of water for the purpose of cultivating. The growing operation was also thought to be illegal and unpermitted.
During the service of the search warrant, a Deputy Sheriff was possibly exposed to a chemical that was being used as an insecticide on the marijuana plants. The chemical has been identified as Metamidofos which is listed as a banned or severely restricted pesticide by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The pesticide is transdermal and can be absorbed through contact with the skin, or inhaled through the respiratory system. Based upon the packaging and labeling of the bottle the pesticide appears to have been brought into the United States illegally from Mexico.
After the service of the search warrant the Deputy started to experience stomach problems and progessively worsened. He was treated at a local area hospital in the days following his exposure and he is still under the care of a physician due his continuing symptoms that are common for exposure to this substance.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to caution the public and other first responders, who might come into contact with dangerous pesticides associated with marijuana cultivation, to use extreme caution as these types of chemicals are now frequently found in marijuana growing operations. If you think you have been exposed to this substance or a similar substance, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Attached is a link to a material Safety Data Sheet on the substance: http://www.villacrop.co.za/files/Metamidofos%20585%20SL_UCP_MSDS.pdf