The following statement was written by Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall and published on the Sheriff Office’s Facebook page:
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is preparing for the upcoming marijuana season. Clearly, we will be facing several issues. This will be a great year if we choose to stand together. I have always believed every problem is also an opportunity and now is the time for us to shine in a way only Mendocino County can.
Following my public comment with the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on 02/23/21 regarding grant proposals, I received several calls and had several discussions regarding concerns for this year. These concerns ranged from climate change, and the impending drought to fire safety to drug violence. All of these folks realize we are facing a very concerning year to come. Concerns regarding policies Mendocino County is currently working with are extremely concerning as well.
I constantly hear arguments that marijuana is the only crop in Mendocino County. That marijuana is the only thing keeping this county afloat. If that is what we believe, then that will be our reality. I don’t believe this to be true. Although there will be some legal market in Mendocino County, we can’t support that market if the black market is allowed to continue. Policies which provide cover to persons continuing to feed the black market are flawed. I have been questioned by many people regarding the cost of enforcement. I would invite these folks to please drive through our county and look at the cost of a lack of enforcement. We are paying a heavy price right now.
With the impending drought, I realize the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office will be contacted to address issues of water. Water diversions, water theft, fire suppression water will be at a premium this year. Continued violence from drug trafficking organizations must be stopped. During the previous fire seasons, we assisted the fire service by completing evacuations, alert and warning, providing security for fire personnel while they battled fires. We faced several challenges in the more rural areas of the county, many of these challenges were directly due to the lawless nature of the illegal marijuana grows in our forests, rangelands and in neighborhoods.
I continue to receive calls and emails from people who are concerned regarding the amount of trash, fertilizer and waste in the mountains, and throughout our communities which has become almost epidemic. Many fear as I do, when the market collapses, our lands will be poisoned, the bill will come due to be paid by the remaining residents of the county.
I received a call from a person who was concerned about the water being siphoned away from watersheds which are so critical. Would we allow this in any other industry? Absolutely not.
Based on these factors, I understand we will see a deeper demand for law enforcement. I will be moving more personnel into our marijuana enforcement team. Currently, we have been working with numbers that simply can’t support our mission. When we have over one million marijuana plants just in Round Valley, we have to make changes in personnel to meet these needs.
With the new issues we are seeing, including well-armed and dangerous crews running these illegal grow sites, we simply have to place greater efforts into the safety of our personnel. The only way to accomplish this will be to move forward with adequate staffing and equipment. This will come at a price.
We can’t continue to allow dangerous living conditions, environmental damage, and a constant concern for our youth. The main issue driving all of these problems is greed. The people coming to our county and causing many of these issues are simply drug dealers. Drug dealers who are hoping to profit from a system that is broken. And clearly, they have been profiting. Our recent increases in methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and other illicit drugs are largely due to a drug pipeline which has been established through our county.
I have been contacted by friends, neighbors and complete strangers who have advised me they are ready to abandon Mendocino County. Many have bluntly told me, the beauty of this place simply isn’t worth the dangers they are living in. We have Native Americans who are choosing to leave their ancestral homes due to this invasion of drug dealers. That simply isn’t acceptable.
Therefore, we will be continuing with a proactive approach to enforcement throughout the year. There will be deputies and partnering agencies throughout the county to deal with these issues. I would like to make it extremely clear to all who are committing these crimes and to those who would come to Mendocino County intending to commit these violations, it won’t be tolerated. We will be aggressively enforcing all illicit drug laws as well as continuing to investigate the terrible crimes associated with the illicit drug trade. We will use any tool at our disposal to combat this issue. Clearly now is the time for all of us to say no more. Enough is enough, and we will work together to take the county back.
Sheriff Matt Kendall