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Browsing the archives for the Marijuana category.

Senator Ted Gaines sends letter asking Brown to declare state of emergency in Siskiyou

CRIMINAL, LAWS or law, Marijuana, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou County, State gov, Ted Gaines

Siskiyou Daily News

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Hmong pot growers in Siskiyou County seeking identity, profit — or both 9-10-17

CRIMINAL, Marijuana, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

The narcotics officer stood on a windswept ridge near the Oregon border and surveyed the fields cut into the hills below, a landscape resembling a lost piece of wine country.

The terraces of Siskiyou County, however, were planted in cannabis.

More than 1,500 Hmong farmers in the last two years have poured into this remote county, so vast it encompasses two western mountain ranges.

By the second growing season in 2016, satellite images showed nearly 1,000 parcels laden with dark green crops. Depending on whose yield estimates and black market prices you rely on, the Hmong’s Siskiyou crop had a value as high as $1 billion.

Where it was bound for, the growers would not say.

Mouying Lee, a businessman whose name surfaces in every facet of the Siskiyou marijuana story, said with a deadpan delivery that his clansmen came here “for the feng shui” of the mountains. He pointed out that most of the landholders are elderly: Former factory workers and mechanics from Wisconsin. Old aunts and uncles.

The abundant crop is grown for personal use, Lee said. For poultices and shower rinses. For broth and tea.

County officials don’t buy it. They say that Siskiyou is being forced into the nation’s $49-billion black market for marijuana, sparking a modern range war.

So much land has changed hands so quickly in cash deals that Sheriff Jon Lopey is convinced he is fighting the hidden hand of organized crime.

Welcome to Mount Shasta Vista

Land speculators more than a half-century ago carved Siskiyou County’s unbuildable high desert and mountain slopes into half a dozen large subdivisions with “vacation” parcels — many of which did not sell and later wound up trading for $500 an acre on eBay.

Mount Shasta Vista rose along the western edge of the valley, a floor of volcanic debris crusted by a thin growth of stunted juniper and bitterbrush. Southerly breezes catch glacier-capped Shasta to the east, and Mount Eddy on the Trinity Range to the west, squeezing through the valley in gusts that commonly reach 70 mph.

Satellite images in 2014 of the fallow development, with its 1,641 lots and mostly absentee owners, showed a handful of houses, some rusted junk and two marijuana patches.

The Hmong began arriving in earnest in early 2015.

A third of the Mount Shasta Vista parcels bore Hmong names by the end of 2016. They sold at five times their assessed value, and the subdivision’s moonscape supported 508 telltale gardens of green.

With them came makeshift fences, trash piles and swimming pools converted into cheap water tanks. The newcomers hauled in soil, erected drying racks from plastic pipe and slept in plywood sheds. If there was power, it came from a generator, and a portable toilet stood sentry at each gate — sometimes along with an American flag.

A similar scene played out in four other developments throughout the county.

Lee’s house, unusual because it is a permanent structure, sits in the center of the 2½-acre plots dedicated to growing marijuana. Six cars and three water trucks are parked out front.

The stout 43-year-old is a child of the Hmong refugee camps in Thailand. He said he worked in Fresno as a computer programmer and contractor before joining the migration to Siskiyou County in 2016 to build the small wood sheds growers live in.

California permits marijuana cultivation for personal medical use, but leaves local governments to decide how much — if any — to allow.

It took a single growing season in 2015 for Siskiyou County supervisors to ban outdoor cultivation, punishable by a fine. The crops could also be destroyed if authorities determined they were for commercial sale.

As unease with marijuana grew into complaints and then scrutiny from county supervisors, Lee organized a community collective. Following the first harvest of 2015, the Hmong council handed out frozen turkeys as a gesture of goodwill.

When that didn’t calm the waters, Lee retained lawyers from the legal group Pier 5 — champions of controversial clients, such as the Black Panthers and San Francisco Chinatown mobsters.

Public records show Lee and a relative, Vince Wavue Lee, tracked down the absentee owners of more than 50 lots, paid them above-market prices and then transferred the properties as “gifts” to other Hmong.

They were friends and family members who didn’t like to conduct business in English, the pair said. Sometimes they fronted the money, trusting they would be paid back. They said they made no profit.

Mouying Lee said the subdivisions in Siskiyou County are the start of a new home for his people.

“To see the image of the mountain form, this is a better place for the elders,” he said. He likened the volcanic ranges to the karst outcrops and verdant jungle of northern Laos.

“It is like Long Tieng,” he said. “It is the dream town.”

The roots of the black market

Long Tieng was the CIA’s largest airbase in Laos during what became known as the Secret War.

Its single runway served as a staging point for helicopter raids and Air America supply drops to Hmong hill fighters during the Vietnam War. Wittingly or not, it also was a hub for moving the opium that Hmong highland villagers rotated through their corn crops. A city of more than 30,000 Hmong sprang up around the cloud-shrouded base, with mud streets and haphazard sheds built from flattened fuel drums.

When the Americans pulled out in 1975, thousands of Hmong collaborators were slaughtered or fled to refugee camps in Thailand. Ultimately, some 300,000 found asylum in the United States, settling in close-knit enclaves largely spread among three states: Wisconsin, Minnesota and California.

Some Hmong community leaders are distressed to see struggling immigrants again grabbing at what seems like easy cash.

Chat boards carry tales of growers earning $10,000 a month. Entire family clans are invested in the marijuana operations.

Aunts, cousins and elders put their names on deeds or show up at harvest. One 2015 raid on a Siskiyou County marijuana processing house found 23 people inside, ages 19 to 77.

“It is an open secret,” said a Hmong leader in Sacramento, seeking anonymity because his past candor resulted in death threats.

In his eyes, marijuana is the new opium.

He also struggles with the desire to create a new Hmong enclave in the mountains — a drive he believes holds his people back from assimilating. “There is a reason after 40 years we are still on welfare,” he said.

California paved the way for the black market in 1996, legalizing medical marijuana in terms so loose that growers can remain on the right side of the law right up until they take their crop to market. By 2010, the state grew enough cannabis that it could provide more than three-quarters of the illegal marijuana supply in the country. That’s enough to make marijuana California’s largest export commodity, eclipsing almonds, dairy, walnuts, wine and pistachios combined.

Large trespass grows on public lands remain a law enforcement target. But a 2013 federal memo promised to ignore small-scale trade in pot-legal states, and California set no limits on what constitutes personal use.

The result: the ubiquitous 99-plant grow, enough marijuana to keep 420 daily smokers supplied for a year, but one plant below the threshold for a five-year federal prison term. There are now hundreds of them in Siskiyou County.

State and federal agencies would not comment on the role of the Hmong in the black market. A 2010 report by the High Intensity Drug Task Force, however, noted that Asian trafficking organizations — Hmong and Laotian specifically — dominated private property cannabis production.

STILL  MORE  — with photos go to:

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-hmong-marijuana-siskiyou-20170910-htmlstory.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster, 5 others arrested on drug charges 3-27-15

CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL, Marijuana, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

PNP comment:  This is a 2 year old article, but I am pleased to say this won’t be our sheriff, as Siskiyou Co. Sheriff Jon Lopey has shown he will not be bribed!!!  Recently, two Hmong marijuana growers have been arrested for trying to bribe Sheriff Lopey with $1 million to aid in a drug trafficking business. Jon brought in the DEA and FBI and did a sting. Thank you Sheriff Lopey for your great integrity! — Editor Liz Bowen

 

The Fresno Police Department’s second in command has been arrested in a federal drug conspiracy investigation. Deputy Chief Keith Foster, 51, is accused of distributing and possessing drugs.

Deputy Chief Keith Foster is accused of distributing and possessing oxycodone, marijuana, and heroin. He was arrested on Thursday after a year long investigation by the FBI and ATF.

VIDEO: Full press conference

Press conference on arrest of Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster
The Deputy Police Chief of the Fresno Police Department, Keith Foster, was arrested for conspiracy to distribute drugs according the FBI.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer met with his staff to address any questions they have after the announcement — and also to reassure them that no one, including officers, is above the law.

Deputy Chief Foster is one of three deputy chiefs in the department. Chief Jerry Dyer says Foster’s job is to oversee patrol — and each of the four policing districts in the city. Foster became a deputy chief eight years ago.

At the news conference Thursday afternoon, Chief Dyer said he was just made aware of this case — after Foster was arrested on Thursday. Federal investigators are not revealing details of the investigation, other than to say they have surveillance, which includes Deputy Chief Foster. Investigators were authorized to use wire taps on telephones.

“This is a very sad day for the Fresno Police Department, the citizens of Fresno, and the law enforcement profession,” said Dyer.

When Chief Dyer was asked what a stunning arrest like this means for the citizens of Fresno, his officers and the criminals they fight against each day — he replied, “The message I want to send to everyone, when we place this badge on our chest, it’s a badge of honor. There’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with it. It is important that we do everything we can to maintain and enhance the trust our citizens have in us.”

The chief says he hopes his officers can still hold their heads up high. He stressed that Deputy Chief Foster and the others arrested are innocent until proven guilty.

Three other suspects were arrested on Thursday afternoon. Federal authorities say 41-year-old Rafael Guzman worked with Foster to distribute heroin. Foster’s relative, 48-year-old Randy Flowers is accused of conspiring to distribute oxycodone. And 35-year-old Jennifer Donebedian was arrested for conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

The other two suspects, 44-year-old Denny Foster and 37-year-old Sarah Ybarra, were arrested Thursday night for conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

A total of 10 search warrants were conducted by the FBI and ATF.

Deputy Chief Foster and the others will be in federal court Friday afternoon to determine if they will get bail.

Chief Dyer says Foster is on paid leave right now. He has been stripped of his peace officer powers and has turned in his department issued gun.

MORE

http://abc30.com/news/fresno-deputy-police-chief-keith-foster-5-others-arrested-on-drug-charges/574954/

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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POT growers arrested for allegedly trying to bribe Siskiyou Co. Sheriff Jon Lopey

CRIMINAL, Federal gov & land grabs, LAWS or law, Marijuana, Sheriff Jon Lopey

PNP comment: Just you watch — Siskiyou County will be called ‘racist’ from this situation. BUT, let everyone know that Siskiyou County ELECTED the 1st BLACK SHERIFF in the State of California in 1986 — OVER 30 YEARS AGO — Charlie Byrd, who was re-elected 3 more times! — Editor Liz Bowen

FBI – FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

08/31/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/01/2017 06:39

Alleged Marijuana Growers In Siskiyou County Charged For Conspiring To Bribe Sheriff

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Chi Meng Yang, 31, of Montague, and his sister Gaosheng Laitinen, 36, of Mt. Shasta Vista, were charged today for conspiring to commit bribery, bribery of a public official, conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and manufacturing marijuana, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to the criminal complaint, on May 17, 2017, Yang met with Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey in Yreka. During the meeting, Yang offered $1 million to the Sheriff in exchange for his assistance with an interstate marijuana distribution business that Yang and others were in the process of organizing.

Yang explained his role to be that of a representative for several families, himself included, that were currently cultivating marijuana in Siskiyou County. After the meeting, the Sheriff immediately reported it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal agents asked the Sheriff to continue meeting with Yang.

At the request of, and in conjunction with the FBI and DEA, the Sheriff contacted Yang and indicated a willingness to work with him and the marijuana growers he represented. The subsequent meetings were audio and video recorded by the FBI. Laitinen attended some of those meetings. During those meetings, Yang and Laitinen talked with the Sheriff about how he could assist them.

Because Yang’s offer of $1 million was contingent on Yang securing and profiting from certain out-of-state marijuana licenses, Yang and Laitinen promised to pay the Sheriff a total of $80,000 if he would exempt eight properties from the Siskiyou County ban against outdoor marijuana grows. They sought protection from raids or other law enforcement actions on these eight properties where outdoor marijuana was being grown.

In furtherance of this plan, Yang and Laitinen gave the Sheriff several initial payments, totaling $10,500 in cash. These funds were immediately turned over to the FBI as evidence.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), North State Marijuana Investigation Team (NSMIT), Tehama Interagency Drug Enforcement (TIDE), Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force (SINTF), Siskiyou Unified Major Investigations Team (SUMIT), and California Highway Patrol (CHP). Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael M. Beckwith is prosecuting the case.

Yang was arrested today and is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on September 1, 2017, in Sacramento. If convicted of the charges in the complaint, Yang and Laitinen face the following maximum statutory penalties: (1) five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge; (2) 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the bribery charge; and (3) a minimum of five years and up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine for the drug charges. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

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Toxic waste from U.S. pot farms alarms experts

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Marijuana

Reuters

By Sharon Bernstein

August 7, 2017

Video by Wochit News

Pollution from illegal marijuana farms deep in California’s national forests is far worse than previously thought, and has turned thousands of acres into waste dumps so toxic that simply touching plants has landed law enforcement officers in the hospital.

The volume of banned or restricted pesticides and illegally applied fertilizers in the woods dwarfs estimates by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014, when a top enforcement official testified that the pollution was threatening forest land in California and other states.

California accounts for more than 90 percent of illegal U.S. marijuana farming, with much of it exported to other states from thousands of sites hidden deep inside forested federal land, and more on private property, law enforcement officials said. The state is still developing a licensing system for growers even though legal retail sales of the drug will begin next year, and medical use has been allowed for decades.

Ecologist Mourad Gabriel, who documents the issue for the Forest Service as well as other state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, estimates California’s forests hold 41 times more solid fertilizers and 80 times more liquid pesticides than Forest Service investigators found in 2013.

Growers use fertilizers and pesticides long restricted or banned in the United States, including carbofuran and zinc phosphide. In previous years, it was commonly sold fertilizers and pesticides that were used illegally, law enforcement officials said.

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