A Bit More on That $3 Million Confiscated by the DEU (It Took Six Hours and Two Money Counters to Total the Cash)


[Stock photo by Jericho via Wikimedia Commons]

Yesterday, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) released statistics on their marijuana eradication raids from October of 2017 through September of 2018. We asked Lt. Mike Fridley of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department to walk us through what is happening with the over three million dollars seized this year.

“The $3.1 million? The majority of that was taken in one marijuana grow,” he explained.

He clarified that the money had been confiscated when the Department of Fish and Wildlife oversaw a large marijuana raid last spring. However, he noted, “Cal Fish and Wildlife doesn’t have a mechanism to seize money, but we can” so the Sheriff’s Office took control of the money.

Fridley, who wasn’t at the scene, said he was told that it took deputies a long time just to figure out how much money they had found. “It took them six hours to count with a money counter,” he explained. “The first machine counts and two guys verify that and then it goes to a second machine.” The amount that goes through the second machine is then verified again. Fridley said he didn’t know what the denominations were but, he explained that during cash seizures, “We generally see twenties. We don’t generally see hundreds.” He then described seeing a photo of the money. It covered a 10′ by 6′ table, he said.

Fridley said that in spite of rumors to the contrary, he doesn’t believe that it would be easy for officers to steal anything from the stacks of money. He explained there were rules about when money can be confiscated, too.

“We seize it and deposit it in a bank,” he said. “Anything over $40k is put on administrative hold.” He added that unless there is an arrest they can’t seize anything under $40k. “And we have to have a conviction, later on, to be able to keep it,” he said.

“When we confiscate money, we have to give [the people who had been in possession of it] explicit information on how to file a claim,” he pointed out. He said there are lots of reasons people might have to explain having a large amount of cash like having just sold a car, or come into an inheritance, etc. He acknowledged, “People can justify having the money.”

In order for law enforcement to keep the money, he said, they have to provide evidence that it is connected to criminal actions. Then he added wryly, “Three million is hard to justify when you don’t have a job.”

After the money has been deposited in the bank, he explained, “We end up in a court hearing with a judge. He decides if [the money] was illegally gained…There is a very set procedure that you have to go through.” If the judge decides the money was gathered through illegal means then the money is dispersed (about 65% goes to the law enforcement agencies involved in the seizure.)

Fridley clarified that the grant that funds Humboldt County’s DEU and which gave them the money to not only eradicate marijuana but also to participate in seizing the three million dollars this spring comes from the Domestic Cannabis Eradication Suppression Program which is funded by the DEA. According to the DEA, they began funding DCESP in 1979. Fridley said that although county records only go back to 2010, he believes they’ve “been getting this grant longer than 20 years.” He thinks it is likely that Humboldt County was one of the first places to be funded.

Beyond the money, Fridley explained, the reason that the arrest numbers are relatively low (14 this year) compared to the number of operations conducted (65 this year) is to give law enforcement more time to put together the evidence needed to get a conviction.

Fridley also explained that the lack of arrests have nothing to do with announcements made in local news organizations about law enforcement convoy’s whereabouts. He said that just recently over thirty people had been detained at one marijuana grow where a search warrant was being served but after gathering their information, the people there were released.

“The reasons we don’t make arrests on scene is it starts the clock,” he said. Once an arrest is made, law enforcement has a set time to file charges. “That’s why you don’t see the large number of arrests to go with the large number of operations.” Later, he said, arrests can be made.

“By the time we get to a site, we’ve done a whole lot of background before we get there,” he explained. “We’ve overflown that property and checked on permit status,” etc. He said they only make the arrests when they are ready for the next step in the process to begin.




  • “We seize it and deposit it in a bank,” he said.
    i am going to call b.s. because if that were true they wouldnt have three mill sitting there waiting to be counted at one time

    • Well, it’s evidence of an ongoing criminal enterprise, so they count it before they bury it in pickle barrels stored under the dumpsters out back of the jail.

  • Banking geniuses. “Three million is hard to justify when you don’t have a job.” BWAHAHAHAHA! Expect a letter from the IRS.

  • Let’s see, 65 raids, $3 million that’s about $46,000/grow, and, with 15,000 grows, in this county, hmmmmm, that’s apparently $690,000,000 that they DIDN’T get…

    Nice work, Humboldt County, you are making the world safer…

    • Lol. And they got paid to count money!

    • you should take up teaching math-but you really should take a class on reading.the article said they got most of the 3mil from one raid

      • The trolls in these threads say a lot about nothing. Just rambling conjecture and a need to see their bursts of insane made-up plot twists in print. Having lived in Southern Humboldt for a very long time and knowing so many people here I usually get the real story. These troll comments are usually so off the mark that it’s hilarious to see them make idiots of themselves.

        • What is the skinny on the social media posts about some of these busts being caused by out of state rats?

          • Out of state rats that got caught and ratted on their Humboldt connection to lessen their charges? There’s nothing new about that and it’s happened over and over again. Feds usually get involved with these cases.

        • I like stars too!

          Hilarity is you and your pals, above, missing the point, which is, wow, some fool had 3 million bucks, in cash, at his pot farm! How much do you have at yours?

          The sheer volume of cash here would amuse anyone, for a while…

          I myself convert to Krugerrand and bury it in a VERY secret place! If the sheriff wanted to find the money, they would need better spies and informants.

          Meanwhile, it looks like they only find what they actually stumble over, and that, in my opinion, is a very small percentage of the possible total.

          Don’t take everything so literally, or even seriously. Some comedy is complex and light at the same time…

        • Funny. Because you keep trolling trolls which in turn makes you a troll. Get a life troll troller

  • This appears to answer some of the questions we’ve all been asking. Good stuff.

  • Well I guess they don’t need to tax us for good with measure o. They’ve got 3000000 dollers. SO VOTE NO ON O!!!!!!! Not too mention it was 4 million so they got there fat bonuses already.

  • Any body know what raid this was from? what , when , where? Really curious..Thanks

  • I am still confused
    So if code enforcement, is able to secure a search warrant on my parcel for suspicion of commercial cultivation without permission from the local authority. The authorities act on the warrant and find misdemeanor and civil issues occurring during the raid, that then justifies the sheriffs office the ability to cherry pick assets to be seized?
    It’s strange they would take $12k in cash and a $500 assault rifle but leave a $60k f250, $85k Z51 alone.
    I guess what I am asking for law enforcement to ckairify is the seizing of assets for misdemeanor infractions? And why the concentration on certain assets as apposed to all?
    We are starting to blurr the lines with code enforcement and law enforcement working hand in hand to investigate civil issues, that somehow green lights law enforcements ability to seize assets without cause. This is going to cost taxpayers 100x what they are seizing in the end.

    • This is simple code enforcement that can happen anywhere in the USA. Build an non-permitted three story garage in El Segundo and see how quick there is a code enforcement officer standing on your property. This isn’t Nam people, this is like bowling, there are RULES.

      Enforcing the law is different than running a grow scene. The law does not have to turn a profit, they only have to enforce the law. They can always go after the vehicles and other property in the future. That is the beauty of waiting to file criminal charges – patience is a virtue.

      Cops and weed growers are the only people who like Z51s.

      • This is only a guest

        Walter, everything’s a fucking travesty with you, man!

      • How is LE expecting to turn misdomeaner citations into felony charges? I am sure the district attorney is also curious as well.

        • Can’t criminal forfeiture apply in regards to a misdemeanor, which is still a crime even if a lesser one? I suppose it depends on California laws about it.

      • Walter
        Code enforcement and law enforcement are two different animals.
        I would expect code enforcement to be unhappy with my unpermitted garage, and levy fines and fees until the nuisance is corrected, however I wouldn’t expect that LE would use this as an opportunity to toss my underwhere drawer and take my lunch money, and my squirrel rifle on the premis that I am violating civil codes.

        • There are laws specifically applying to drugs- California Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Health & Safety Code. Also organized crime.

      • This is only a guest

        Eight year olds, dude.

      • What rules in bowling? You’re kidding, right!

    • They usually won’t confiscate stuff that’s financed through a bank that the people still owe money on. And this article just goes to show what it’s really all about$$$$$$$$$$$$

      • But so’s growing in the first place. What better way to discourage illegal activity than by making it unprofitable…

        • What: do you live in New Yawk? Cause “growing” (cultivation to the not so simple) IS LEGAL in the state of California, whether you like it or not.

      • No, banks lose property all the time when they write loans to dumbasses involved in criminal activity. Furthermore, if your household income is derived completely from criminal activity you could lose everything and be fined more than $1,000,000.

    • Probably some silly rules about having to establish that the vehicles were actually used to transport illegal drugs or bought with the proceeds of illegal drugs. Most likely it was likely to be more trouble than it was worth to both prove and hold the vehicles til a trial they never intend to have whereas the money is just banked. There is no requirement that they must seize stuff. Which is a good thing for you.

      The assault rifle was probably illegal.

      • I’d have to disagree
        Assets are assets.
        Side by side
        Precious’s metal

        The burden of proof remains the same for the cash all assets and firearms.
        *The “drugs” are no longer illegal
        * Transportation is not always illegal
        The point I am trying to make is the precedent is being set that you are now guilty and need to prove your innocence.
        This is getting bigger than weed in the hills without a permit to cultivate.

        • The point was that not all assets are required to be seized, nor are all assets permitted to be seized. Use of pot in California is now legal, excluding Federal laws of course, but growing commercially or selling is regulated. Like alcohol use is legal but moonshining is a crime.

          It is simply easier to hold money than store other impounded articles. And to establish it’s illegally obtained.

          • “It is simply easier to hold money than store other impounded articles. And to establish it’s illegally obtained.”
            That’s also the theory behind speeding, jaywalking, parking, etc tickets. Most people can’t afford to take time off work to sit in jail, so they shrug and pay the fine rather than fight it.
            The courts hate it when the people choose to sit in jail rather than pay their fine.

            • you need an update. they dont offer jail time in lieu of fines anymore they just attach it to your driver license or fishing license (same goes for child support), which means they take away your licenses if you dont pay. and you cannot fight a speeding ticket until you pay the whole thing. then after you pay your ticket in full then you can put yourself on the court calendar and ask the judge to drop or reduce your ticket, which means they might mail you a check for all or part of your fine (or not) just thought you should know

        • Typically the basis for confiscating firearms is unrelated to civil asset forfieture, has more to do with specific statutes that address the use of firearms in the commission of certain crimes.

          There are no penal code crimes being alleged here, so there is simply no basis for confiscating firearms.

          • You also have to consider the fact that it’s federally illegal to own a firearm when in possession of drugs or growing marijuana. Technically you’re not supposed to qualify for purchase of a firearm if you have a 215.

            • THC, if that’s true, then prescription or cold meds also falls under that questionable law. Time for a repeal, it true.

      • The Supreme Court will be considering a case (timbs)that deals with this issue of our 8 th amendment to the constitution.the decision may impact exactly what humboldt county has been doing With regard to excessive civil fines.


    • They never take jewelery😊

    • Chatty Cathy already nailed it, “Code enforcement and law enforcement are two different animals.”

      These agencies are blurring the lines in a way that should make anybody who gives a rats ass about civil liberties very concerned. The very notion that there is a path from civil code enforcement to asset confiscation is absurd.

      So lets say I build a deck on my house but don’t get a permit. Can the building inspector call in the local PD to search my house for cash and guns to seize? Or take my car and make me go to court to explain how I bought it? Hell no. Civil asset forfeiture *requires* allegation of actual crimes defined by the California penal code.

      Lastly, Lt. Mike “Three million is hard to justify when you don’t have a job.” Fridley doesn’t seem to grasp who bears the burden of proof.

      Thank you Kym for digging into this question, I smell a class-action civil rights lawsuit heading HCSO’s way.

      • Fridley is spot the fuck on with his “Three million is hard to justify when you don’t have a job.” statement. True he has the burden of proof. He also has the cash in-hand. The criminals who were dumb enough to keep 3 mil on hand will not get it back, never.

        The criminals or corporation that lost the $3,000,000 will need to show the court some paperwork to prove that it was not obtained illegally. W2s, or 1099s, or a huge stack of winning lottery ticket receipts will suffice. Pics of a mega grow on instagram won’t help them get their money back.

        They don’t have receipts for the money? They won’t get the money back. If they attempt to fight to get their cash back the court will also want to see their tax filing records. Unclaimed income and tax evasion are felonies.

        If you own property, that does not mean you can do whatever the heck you want on that property, including growing dope and draining water from streams. If you add a deck onto your home without a permit you can have your property condemned, your occupancy permit pulled, ass fined into oblivion, and ultimately if you don’t fix it ALL of the contents on the property confiscated.

        A class action suit? Please. The courts could recommend that the DA charge all of the defendants under the RICO statutes. Growing weed is still a felony in California. Anyone who tests the courts with lose, big-time.

  • Who gets the interest from the bank deposits???

  • To bad it doesn’t go back to our own county, like our schools which are failing, our hospitals, our homeless, our veterns,our community center or our seniors, or our roads. But 65 percent goes back to the sherriffs? ?

  • The press release from the May 9th raid in sohum stated they seized over 3 million dollars, and now they’re trying to claim that was their take for the whole year. Hmmmmm. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that doesn’t add up.

  • I have lost all faith in Humboldt County. There was an amazing opportunity for Humboldt Country to use cannabis in a way that would have served this community in a healthy manner, but instead they have people running in fear of breaking the law even when your only growing 6 plants. Stores are closing down, people are moving away. As you raid people and trash their homes, you you walk away with lots of fun toys, and money, but leave behind a torn community. If your real purpose is to “save the earth”, here’s a hint, do it when the plants are just tiny starter plants instead of waiting to go in at the end of the season when the maximum amount of “damage” has been done (not as much fun, and definitely not as impressive in photos). I thought California would show this country how to do cannabis right, but as it turns out, it’s all about power, and money even in little ‘ol humboldt. Sad for all. Humboldt community use to protect each other like family, and took pride in what Humboldt was all about.

    • RIght on, J.J. !

    • You had faith in a county? California would show the country how to do cannabis right? Stop dude you are freaking killing me.

      All of this expertise is based on what? A bunch of criminals growing dope and hiding from the law for decades. That don’t mean shit. Any fool can make a decent living when your product is 12,000% profitable. The key is to make a living when it is only 400% profitable, most will fail.

    • Dear Joe,

      Don’t lose faith in Humboldt County – you & me & us & we. It’s “The County” of Humboldt Inc., posing as Humboldt County. Corporations have no eyes, ears, or hands -to sign ‘agreements’ or a ‘Memo of Understanding’ (more nonsense from the purveyors of nonsense). A contract to be valid in a court of competent jurisdiction must have four elements – capacity, consent, consideration (full disclosure), and a lawful object. The main thing is closure. None of the above exists on permits from an imaginary Master. Not possible. The color of law, but not law.

      Fact – private. Fiction – corporate governmental Public services, for the “general welfare” Pfft!

      Private – contract. Public – commerce. Homogenizing public with private is a conflict of interest and frowned upon. A grass roots’ no-no. PPPs exist, by semantic deceit, for one reason – Control . . . the ultimate aphradesiac. – Kissinger.

      The gender, race, and culture homogenizing-swirl we’re in, if we don’t focus and unite – or, unite to focus – will not only be the straw that finalizes our gasping local culture’s being, it will be a death knell heard from shore to bay across all lands. The protection of America’s part of Mother Earth was provided for us , fought and died for, and is not available in any other country. Our heritage, birthright, and priority-creditor status , like truth, has always been there. The law of the land hasn’t changed.

      Who will defend our private property rights if we don’t? Venezuela was disarmed two years before famine hit. Today, six children die per week from starvation in Venezuela. We’re being disarmed one x one, by ball-less vigilantes with a badge. Thieves and criminals or they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing.

      Estell has the common sense to withdraw. One down, four to go. “The County” cesspool awaits cleaning.

  • were scrood.

  • M2HB’s 500 yds on center aughta’ take care of this non-issue…

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