SIMIT continues to crack down on illegal pot grows

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Illegal marijuana plants, processed marijuana, firearms, generators and water pumps were seized on Friday, June 7 in a series of counter-drug operations in the Big Springs area southeast of Montague, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office reported. Charges are pending against two people located at the sites.

Led by the Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Investigation Team, better known as SIMIT, the operation focused on large, illegal marijuana cultivation sites in the vicinity of Quartz Lane, Jade Avenue, Jasper Court, and Dolomite Court, the Sheriff’s Office said.

A total of 4,658 plants and 176 pounds of processed marijuana were seized, as well as four firearms, eight generators, and three water pumps. Combining May 2019 enforcement totals, SIMIT has seized 11,446 illegal marijuana plants over the past two months.

Accompanying the SIMIT investigators on Friday were representatives from Governor Gavin Newsom’s staff and a major general from the California Army National Guard.

Also assisting with the operation were patrol deputies, SCSO’s Special Services lieutenant, and SIMIT detectives from SCSO and members of SCSO’s professional staff evidence-property team, the Sheriff’s Office said, as well as soldiers from the California Army National Guard’s elite Counter-Drug Unit

“Based on an average county yield of three pounds per plant at maturity and lower retail drug market rates in the eastern United States, due to the flooded black market marijuana situation in California, it is estimated the plants seized by SIMIT ... would ultimately be worth approximately $27.9 to $41.9 million on the illegal retail drug market (estimated $2,000 to $3,000.00 retail),” the Sheriff’s Office said. “The 176 pounds of processed marijuana is worth approximately $352,000 to $528,000 on the illegal retail drug market in the eastern US.”

Siskiyou County has an ordinance that prohibits all outdoor marijuana cultivation, said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey. Growers are limited to 12 plants inside an approved structure for medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana, pursuant to Proposition 64, is limited to six marijuana plants, which may be grown in a residence or other enclosed structure.

During their June 4 meeting last week, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted to extend their “Local State of Emergency” proclamation, which designates illicit marijuana in the county as a major threat to the public health and safety of citizens.

“The proliferation of illicit marijuana cultivation sites has endangered people, harmed the environment, and promoted a major interstate drug trafficking industry originating from within the county,” said Lopey. “Illicit marijuana cultivation sites in the county, both on public and private lands have presented a threat to watersheds, fish and wildlife, and has contributed to chronic quality of life and fire hazard-related challenges in several county communities. Marijuana-related activities have been linked to deaths, including carbon monoxide poisonings and traffic fatalities within the county,” Lopey said.

“While we respect an adult’s right to legally consume medical or recreational marijuana under current state law, the large quantities of marijuana seized in commercial quantities in these recent operations have nothing to do with recreational or medicinal drugs but have everything to do with illicit drug trafficking, which adversely impacts public health, safety, our environment, and the quality of life in our own state, county, and many other jurisdictions,” Lopey added.