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Large counter-drug raid in Juniper Valley area

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s SIMIT and NSMIT teams conduct counter-drug raid in Juniper Valley area; nets total 5,191 illegal marijuana plants, clones and firearms

Staff Writer
Siskiyou Daily News

On Wednesday morning, June 3, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, its Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Investigation Team, in partnership with the North State Major Investigation Team and several other law enforcement agencies conducted a counter-drug raid in the Juniper Valley area of Siskiyou County, netting a combined total of 5,191 illegal marijuana plants, starter clones, processed cannabis product, and four firearms were confiscated during what turned out to be a very busy day for investigators.

The first search warrant operation targeted illegal marijuana cultivation sites on Frontier Drive, which is near Harry Cash Road (Montague), SCSO reported. The second counter-drug operation focused on the 6000 block of Jade Avenue in the Big Springs area (Montague). Another search warrant operation was conducted on Trinity Trail Place, which is on the outer southwest quadrant of the Mt. Shasta Vista subdivision. The fourth operation was a 2.27-acre parcel on Quail Road south of Starling Road in the Mt. Shasta Vista subdivision. The fifth and final search warrant operation was conducted on a parcel near the intersection of Starling Road and Timber Road, Mt. Shasta Vista. Most marijuana plants that were seized were contained in large greenhouses on the properties subjected to the search warrant operations. An arrest was made at the Frontier Drive location. Firearms seized included long-guns and handgun-type firearms, including an assault-type rifle and a shotgun. One targeted site contained marijuana that was already harvested and no product was recovered on the property, SCSO said.

Many of the illegal plants confiscated were maturing with buds, which indicates most of the plants were close to harvest. When plants are harvested finished product is processed, packaged, and typically transported across state lines for illegal sale to a multitude of community buyers throughout the nation, said the SCSO.

During the past four weeks, SCSO’s SIMIT and NSMIT have eradicated 13,520 illegal marijuana plants and starter clones in the Big-Springs and Mt. Shasta Vista areas of the county, SCSO reported. The 5,191 illegal marijuana plants most recently seized, based on an average three-pound yield, could ultimately be worth approximately $15.6 million on the illicit wholesale drug market and approximately $46.7 million retail on the East Coast illicit drug market.

The four-week total of 13,520 illegal marijuana plants seized, based on the three-pound yield average, are worth approximately $40.6 million on the wholesale illicit East Coast drug market and approximately $121.7 million on the retail illicit East Coast drug market, according to the SCSO.

This year’s totals for processed marijuana (438 pounds) could net approximately $438,000 wholesale and approximately $1.3 million on the retail, East Coast illicit drug market, in addition to the multi-million-dollar tally for the marijuana plants already seized thus far, the SCSO stated.

SCSO’s Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Investigation Team is a drug task force that primarily enforces current county ordinances and state law that relates to illicit marijuana drug trafficking on private property areas of the county. NSMIT is a drug task force that is led by the California Department of Justice and its orientation is regional in nature, but the team spends time in Siskiyou County, enforcing drug laws and the team addresses violent crime and weapons-related offenses. Siskiyou County was designated a HIDTA county several years ago by the United States Department of Justice at the request of SCSO’s management team. Siskiyou County is a member of the Central Valley HIDTA since many drug trafficking networks in the region have links to areas in the Central Valley of California, such as Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties.

During 2019, SIMIT and NSMIT seizure totals for Siskiyou County were 61,599 illicit marijuana plants seized and 17,763.5 pounds of processed marijuana confiscated during their operations in various parts of the county, the SCSO reported.

Siskiyou County officials have enacted an ordinance that prohibits all outdoor marijuana cultivation in county areas and growers are limited to 12-plants inside an approved structure, for medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana possession on private property, pursuant to Prop 64, is limited to six marijuana plants, per parcel, which may be grown in a residence or other approved, enclosed structure (adults only). A recent county ordinance is pending final implementation, which significantly elevates daily fines for violation building, sewer, water, refuse, and illegal marijuana-related violations, including a $5,000.00 a day assessment possible for repeated violations. SCSO is working closely with county code enforcement to enhance the overall enforcement methods used to criminally and civilly mitigate the overwhelming illicit marijuana problem evident in Siskiyou County.

“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 Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey. “Dangers associated with the proliferation of marijuana have proven to be particularly harmful to children and the environment.”

On Jan. 7, 2020, during their regularly scheduled meeting, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a new “Local State of Emergency” because of the potentially devastating impacts that illicit marijuana cultivation sites, organized drug trafficking organizations, and their associates are exacting on the county and its citizenry, including critical public health, social welfare, justice, and environmental clean-up costs and related challenges, the SCSO said.

“The illegal marijuana seizures on May 28 once again indicate we are encountering larger grows sites compared to last year,” said Lopey. “These trends are alarming because the trend is moving from outdoor grow sites to greenhouses, which means illegal marijuana can be grown, harvested, and illegal transported and sold over state lines several times a year from the same producer. The latest operation in the Big Springs and Mt. Shasta Vista areas yielded 5,191 illegal plants, which again, clearly substantiates the fact we are facing organized crime groups intent on circumventing local, state, and in some cases, federal marijuana laws. The seizure of firearms from drug trafficking suspects and organizations is also a matter of concern. I would like to take this opportunity to thank SIMIT team members, NSMIT team members, California Department of Justice (Bureau of Investigations), SCSO patrol personnel, California Highway Patrol, CAL FIRE law enforcement, Siskiyou County Planning Department, which provided a code enforcement officer for this operation, SCSO’s Property/Evidence team, and the California Army National Guard’s Counter-Drug Unit for assisting SCSO, SIMIT, and NSMIT with this productive counter-drug operation.”

SCSO has received invaluable assistance and support from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has provided most of the funding for the department’s counter-drug operations through DCESP (Domestic Cannabis Eradication Support Program).

Anyone with information about illegal marijuana cultivation operations in their county neighborhoods or the cases subject to these recent counter-drug operations is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900. Complaints concerning “quality of life” issues such as building, water, sewage, or refuse may be directed to the Siskiyou County Community Development office at (530) 841-2100.