Mendocino County Sheriff Talks Island Mountain Raids: Come September, We’ll Be Back
The three sheriffs investigated. They used aerial surveillance. The more they investigated the more they felt, Allman said, that “this was the most abusive area for the three counties.”
On Monday, Sheriff Allman said that Representative Jim Wood was taken to Island Mountain to see first hand the problems.
Allman stated that 86,578 marijuana plants were eradicated in the three counties. He added that officers “did not encounter extensive resistance” except in one case where a bulldozer destroyed the road and deputies were forced to fill the hole with shovels before continuing with their vehicles. “When we got there,” Allman said, “the garden had been eradicated. The plants were secreted in a nearby forest.” But, he said, the plants were found by officers.
“$80,777 were seized from … different locations,” Allman stated.
According to a Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson, the Watershed Enforcement Team (WET) found 97 violations– 55 pertaining to stream violations. The lieutenant called this “a wide spectrum of violations.” Some, he said, were minimal and some weren’t. In some places “people pushed loose soil directly into streams…causing diversions and damming streams.” The lieutenant noted that there were numerous holding tanks and ponds. He said, “The amount of gallons of water in tanks was unreal.” Then he noted that many of these were “directly above the Eel River.” The water of the Eel, he said, was hardly flowing. It was stagnant and warm. The tanks, he said, held water that would be running off the hill. Removing that flow “creates complete devastation to the environment.”
In particular, the lieutenant noted that “nearly every parcel had some type of [marijuana] operation occurring on them.”
Allman refuted claims that his officers had eradicated gardens belonging to small farmers by stating that while they had raided small gardens–“the 25 plant grows that we eradicated were connected to another 25 plant grow by waterline…This was an attempt to fool law enforcement.”
Trinity County Sheriff Bruce Haney said, “We served four search warrants.” He added that 14,000 plants eradicated and three firearms were seized. “There was one case that was filed. There could be more,” he said.
Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey said that his officers “served seven search warrants” but no one was arrested. He said that there were 40 separate large greenhouses. “The watershed,” Downey said, “was drawn down to levels never seen before.” Then he described a large water bladder approximately “100 feet by 100 feet.” An officer, he said, had stood on it and said that “he felt that if it burst, he’d probably drown. That is the kind of water being diverted from our streams and river.”
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said he served nine search warrants. Several individuals were arrested. Mendocino seized six firearms during the course of their operation.
He said that as of yet, he didn’t know the cost of the operation in total. In total, he said, there were 30 to 40 personnel. “We haven’t seen all the overtime,” he explained, and there are other costs yet to be counted. He stated though that in two months he should be able to provide a close account.
Allman said that the National Guard provided one pickup and five personnel.
In response to a question about whether law enforcement could have worked with growers to come into compliance, Allman stated that one of the growers raided had been at meetings about the various laws. Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey stated, “I can guarantee you that only one of the grow sites we went to was even remotely in compliance.”
Downey and Allman both denied that there had been any water lines slashed and tanks emptied. Allman added that if anyone would like to file a complaint they could come into his office…
Allman made it clear that Island Mountain was going to see more law enforcement. “September,” he said, “we’re going to go back to Island Mountain.”