The following is a post written by Sherrif Matt Kendall and published on the agency’s Facebook Page:
Over the past few years, we have seen a down-turn in the number of illegal marijuana cultivations sites in Mendocino County. We continue to make progress however this doesn’t mean we are ahead of the problem.
Illegal cultivation continues to be a huge problem for our county and continues to bring organized crime, violence, and environmental damage. The problems were once hidden in our dense forests however following the passage of proposition 64 in 2018, these problems came to our front doors.
During the week of 06/19/2023 the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Marijuana team completed several investigations in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. We also received assistance in personnel and equipment from the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office the California State Water Board, and the California State Department of Cannabis Control.
Search warrants were executed on 11 properties. In total our teams eradicated 26,039 plants. Seized 5,520 pounds of processed marijuana, and 5 firearms. Also seized was $14,900.00 in cash under asset forfeiture laws. There were 81 violations of the California Fish and Game code which included 12 water diversions and 1 illegally taken black tail deer.
Investigative reports will be submitted to the District Attorney for prosecution on these cases.
My priorities for marijuana enforcement remain the same as previous years. Grow sites which are associated with drug trafficking organizations, violence and human trafficking, trespass grow sites and grow sites which cause environmental degradation continue to be our top priorities.
I am often asked why we are still dealing with marijuana following the passage of Proposition 64. I’m afraid this question shows a naïve approach to the human capacity for greed. Many people had a belief legalization would remove crime from the equation. The truth is many of the legislative measures enacted were simply inadequate to stop the problems to come.
I continue to receive calls and correspondence on a weekly basis regarding the illegal grow sites, armed individuals and environmental crimes.
The interface of rural to suburban neighborhoods with illegal marijuana cultivations has been an eye opener for many of our communities.
Last year we investigated two rolling shootouts between vehicles involved in marijuana robberies. The collective patience within our communities continues to wear thin for bad actors with no intentions of being good neighbors, good stewards to the environment or good human beings. This problem didn’t appear overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight.
Drug trafficking organizations are not one trick ponies. Once a footing is established, these organizations bring fentanyl, methamphetamine, human trafficking, and violence. If we don’t deal with these issues the problem will continue to expand.
The aforementioned reasons are why we continue to combat this even though the penalties for the bad behaviors have been largely removed.
As we continue working through these problems, I am hopeful our representatives in state government will continue to listen to the voices of rural communities. If we all work together we will see an end to these issues and hopefully we can move beyond where we are today. I look forward to a day when marijuana enforcement is a thing of the past, however we will not see that happen until the crimes associated with illegal cultivations have stopped. If we all work together we can make that goal a reality.
Sheriff Matt Kendall.