The following is a message to Mendocino County composed by Sheriff Matt Kendall and published on his agency’s Facebook page:
Following the legalization of marijuana, I answer a lot of questions regarding why we are continuing to dedicate resources to the marijuana issues in Mendocino County. Many folks, including myself, hoped the legalization of marijuana would simply end the criminal issues associated with cultivation. Sadly, extremely dangerous behaviors which are associated with the illegal cultivation of marijuana are continuing in our county.
During the month of August 2023, our deputies participated in several search warrants throughout Mendocino County. Over twenty locations were targeted for illegal cannabis, where serious environmental crimes were suspected of taking place. We worked with partnering agencies including California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California State Parks. We were also assisted by CDFW environmental scientists, California State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Cannabis Control, California Highway Patrol, and the Eradication and Prevention of Illicit Cannabis (EPIC).
During these operations, over 70,000 marijuana plants were located and eradicated. Over 9,000 pounds of processed marijuana and 23 guns were seized.
Out of the 20 locations, more than half had highly dangerous pesticides that are banned in the United States due to their toxic potency. All locations had severe environmental impacts, which included: polluting of the waterways, illegal grading, water diversions, dammed creeks, fuel/oil in the creeks, and water pumps diverting water from creeks. Several of these locations had deplorable living conditions with minimal food. One location had a poached deer.
The attached photographs are just a few of the very toxic chemicals we found being used in these grows sites. These chemicals are commonly known as, Monitor, Zinc Phosphide, Methyl Parathion, Methamidophos, Carbofuran, and Weevil-Cide. These are all banned in the United States. These recent issues are becoming a pattern.
These items can poison waterways and leave lands uninhabitable. The chemicals used have been described as “a circle of death”. Research has shown a quarter teaspoon can kill a 400-pound bear in minutes, scavengers then feed on the carcass and are also poisoned. This cycle continues until the chemical has killed several times.
Many of these chemicals were banned from the US markets in 2009 however we are continuing to see them in the illegal grow sites. These chemicals have likely been smuggled from Mexico and South American Countries.
This is creating a dangerous situation for persons tending the grow sites as well as the law enforcement teams who are investigating and eradicating the sites. As we continue to investigate these grow sites, we have adjusted our tactics in an attempt to keep our personnel safe. Working with the state’s environmental scientists has been a great assistance. I am hopeful state and federal resources may help us get a clear picture of what our next steps will be in the remediation of these locations.
Sheriff Matt Kendall