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Record Number of Drug Raids Target Illicit Marijuana Operations

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

SISKIYOU COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE NEWS UPDATE

 October 11, 2017

 The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) released the latest statistical data on illicit drug seizures made during 2017 and during last week.  Operating primarily on private property using search warrants, the Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Investigation Team (SIMIT) conducted a record number of counter-drug operations during the week of October 8 – 14, 2017.  36 search warrants were served primarily in Mt. Shasta Vista and Mt. Shasta Forest, targeting large cannabis cultivations sites in those areas.  This raises the total number of search warrant operations initiated by SIMIT to 139 and more are planned this week.  During last week, SIMIT seized over 3700 illegal cannabis plants and a large quantity of processed marijuana.  SIMIT is serving search warrants as a team with additional assistance from the local, state, and sometimes federal level.  Last week, a record number of search warrants were served, largely due to the additional support.  One strategy that has proved successful is the team effort between SIMIT, Siskiyou County Public Works, and Code Enforcement Officers from the Planning Department.  Code Enforcement Officers are focusing their efforts on illegal structures, Porta-Potties, water treatment/septic problems, well issues, fencing, generators, and other ordinance related violations.  Public Works is providing exceptional support by providing dump trucks and a backhoe to help haul the large, mature cannabis plants being encountered by team members.

On highway seizures of illegal cannabis continue to be made with four large seizures made from vehicles traveling local highways in recent weeks.

During 2017, SIMIT has conducted counter-drug operation in various areas of Siskiyou County, mostly in Shasta Vista, Klamath River Country Estates (KRCE) in the Hornbrook area; Weed, Lake Shastina, Montague, Big Springs, Mt. Shasta Forest, Mt. Shasta, and Iron Gate (Copco Lake area), seizing approximately 25,166 illegal plants and 6,407 pounds of processed cannabis.  During those private property drug raids, 23 firearms were seized; two water trucks impounded, and a number of arrests made.  Seven additional search warrants were served by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in partnership with SCSO, SIMIT, the Siskiyou Unified Major Investigation Team (SUMIT), and the North State Major Investigation Team (NSMIT).  During 2017, SIMIT has also seized three flammable and dangerous THC extraction or “BHO” labs (concentrated cannabis).  During the counter-drug operations, a number of greenhouses, growing nurseries, outdoor cultivation sites, and two indoor illicit cannabis grows were eradicated.   111 criminal cases are being prepared for submission to the Siskiyou County District Attorney.

The illicit cannabis plants seized by SIMIT (25,166) are worth an estimated $301,992,000.00 on the retail drug market with a three pound per plant yield.  The processed cannabis (6,407 pounds) is estimated to be worth at least $25,628,000.00 on the illegal retail drug market.  According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “We are still seeing large-scale illicit cannabis grow sites in many county areas and these recent operations prove there is still a large-scale effort by many illegal growers to violate the law and existing county guidelines, which do not permit more than 12 medical cannabis plants.  These 12 plants are required to be grown in an approved indoor structure.  There is also mounting evidence of large-scale, organized crime efforts to finance the numerous illicit grow sites that have been observed or eradicated. The number of plants have typically ranged from 99 illegal plants to a high of 2,985 plants on single parcels.

  The SCSO and the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office formed SIMIT during 2016 and the team has assumed the primary mission of enforcing drug-related laws and the county’s marijuana ordinance on private property.  The difference between this and last year is the fact the team is getting an early start on enforcing violations of cannabis cultivation laws and the corresponding county ordinance.

Thus far during 2017 and during the previous year, SIMIT investigators have encountered environmental damage inflicted by growers, including downed trees, garbage, raw sewage, illegal water diversions, chemicals and fertilizers used in cultivation sites, and other adverse impacts.  Illegal campfires on land parcels have been detected along with a number of fire hazards associated with debris piles, fuels, and hazardous substances.  CAL FIRE law enforcement officers have cited many fire hazard-related violations during several counter-drug operations.  According to Sheriff Lopey, “Last week we encountered some conditions during our search warrant operations that reinforce the fact that environmental damage and fire hazards are particularly common in many of these illicit grow sites.”

According to Sergeant Jeremiah LaRue, “Major impacts of these illegal marijuana cultivation sites also include but are not limited to open camp fires, improper grading, human waste, run-off sentiment, nutrients and fertilizers leaching into the soil and watershed; improper site development, illegal road construction, run-off into streams, rivers, and lakes, illegal stream bed alternations, water thefts, and other public health and environmental concerns that adversely impact water quality and natural habitats, potentially harmful to birds, fish, other animals.”

It is important to note that it is estimated these illegal, outdoor marijuana sites, on private property alone, are expending up to 3 million gallons of water a day.  According to Sheriff Lopey, “I would also like to remind my fellow citizens that we are not seeking enforcement against legitimate medical marijuana users or recreational growers in compliance with recently-passed Proposition 64, as long as those citizens comply with the law.  Under Prop 64 or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, recreational adult users of cannabis may possess up to six plants and 28.5 grams of processed marijuana.”

Another task force, the California Department of Justice-led North State Major Investigation Team (NSMIT), a regional team working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and other federal, state, and local agencies, is tasked with curtailing illegal marijuana grow sites on public lands.  NSMIT, including a detective sergeant from SCSO, is investigating illicit cannabis cultivation sites on public land (mostly USFS) areas of Siskiyou County and additional counter-drug enforcement operations are planned in the near future.  NSMIT has also detected hazardous chemicals that threaten the environment in public land grows during their productive 2016 enforcement season.  NSMIT worked with the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), a federal, state, and local team that conducted a series of drug raids in public land areas within the last month and most recently, remote areas of the Klamath National Forest.  To date, about 106,061 illegal cannabis plants have been eradicated and several arrests made. The plants seized, based on a three pound yield, could have resulted in about $1,272,732,000.00 ($1.3 billion) in illicit retail drug proceeds on the streets.  NSMIT has seized 5,650 pounds of processed cannabis and 10 suspects have been arrested.  The 5,650 in processed cannabis prepared for sale can garner about $22.5 million on the retail drug market.

Sergeant LaRue added, “Anyone with information about an illegal marijuana cultivation site is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.  Citizens may also contact the Siskiyou County Planning Department (Community Development) to report suspected ordinance violations related to non-permitted structures, septic tanks, well issues, trash, fencing, and similar ordinance violations at (530) 841-2100.  Citizens with information about illicit drug activities that are non-cannabis related such as methamphetamine, heroin or other illicit drugs are urged to contact SUMIT at (530) 842-8374, or the SCSO 24-hour Dispatch Center.  Sheriff Lopey is also offering to conduct town hall meetings on request to further educate the public about marijuana-related laws or issues involving other illicit drugs.  In partnership with the Siskiyou County’s Department of Health and Human Services, a youth anti-drug and safety program (DARE) will resume this fall in targeted schools to further educate our children about the dangers associated with illicit drug, tobacco, and alcohol use.  The program also discusses other topics such as bullying and how to fight back against the exploitation and abuse of children and how to identify and report such inappropriate behaviors to the proper authorities.”

Recently, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a proclamation declaring a “local state of emergency” in Siskiyou County due to the overwhelming number of illegal cannabis cultivation sites in the county on public and private properties, which present significant public health, safety, and environmental dangers to the county and its citizens.

According to Sheriff Lopey, “This proclamation and support from state agencies has already resulted in increased interest in the illicit drug trade in Siskiyou County.  Since the proclamation, we have received increased and pivotal supported for the eradication of illicit cannabis plants on private property from the California Army National Guard’s (CARNG) counter drug unit, assistance has been received from the local and Northern Division offices of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and CAL FIRE law enforcement has provided some support.  Additionally assistance has been provided by the California Department of Justice through the SUMIT and NSMIT drug task forces.  DEA has also provided additional support.  There are also other state agencies assisting with our water truck and illegal drug trade organizations.  Recently, I was advised by state officials that our proclamation is still under consideration at the state level and Senator Gaines and Assemblyman Dahle have sent letters to Governor Brown, strongly supporting our request for additional support and proclamation of a ‘local state of emergency’.

I had a meeting with Assemblyman Dahle on October 12th and he reaffirmed his strong support of our counter illegal drug activities. We are fortunate that we have local and state political leaders that support our efforts 100% to in our efforts to mitigate the illegal drug trafficking that has plagued our county for too long.  We are attempting to stop lawlessness, preserve our environment, protect our most vulnerable populations such as children and teenagers, and we are honoring the countless calls for help from our citizens reporting numerous ‘quality of life’ issues impacting them in our county.”

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Siskiyou Sheriff’s Detectives Arrest Man for Murder of Missing Woman

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

October 10, 2017

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) detectives have arrested a local man for the murder of a women reported missing in the Montague area on October 5, 2017.

On October 10, 2017, SCSO’s Major Crimes Unit (MCU) investigators found a body of a female adult in a remote area of the county and later positively identified her as Ms. Katrina Leigh Eblen, 24, of Montague.  According to a family member, Ms. Eblen was last seen at about 11 p.m. on October 3, 2017 in the Montague area.  After a SCSO deputy took the initial missing person’s report on October 5th, SCSO’s MCU detectives began an exhaustive investigation into Ms. Eblen’s disappearance and developed a series of investigative leads that led them to an area where Ms. Eblen’s body was suspected to be hidden.

During the MCU’s investigation, a person of interest, Mr. Jere Thomas Ramey, 26, of Montague was identified and interviewed by detectives. After Ms. Eblen’s body was recovered and positively identified, Mr. Ramey was located and questioned by detectives.  Mr. Ramey was subsequently arrested on October 10th at 6:41 p.m. for the murder of Ms. Eblen.  Mr. Ramey was booked by SCSO detectives at the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka.  Mr. Ramey is being held on the murder charge with bail set at $1,000,000.00.  He will be arraigned for the murder charge within the next 48 hours.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “A forensic autopsy will be conducted this week to help investigators determine the cause and manner of death in this case.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank SCSO’s MCU investigators, our forensic technician, and Chief Deputy Coroner for working tirelessly and rapidly to resolve the preliminary stage of this major case. The SCSO’s Search and Rescue Team, its Coordinator, and SAR volunteers also assisted with the remote search, playing a viable on-scene role.  The Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office also provided support.

On behalf of the men and women of the Department, I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the victim, her family, friends, and especially her children in the aftermath of her tragic death.  This case is still under investigation and anyone with information about Katrina’s disappearance or recent activities is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

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Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue Team Finds Human Remains While Searching for Missing Man

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

October 9, 2017

On October 8, 2017, at about 3:35 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordinator reported his team found human remains in vicinity of the Klamath National Forest site that has been the subject of a recent search for a possible missing man connected to an abandoned vehicle.

On October 8, 2017 at about 12:40 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a report of a “suspicious vehicle” from an off-duty law enforcement officer.  The officer was hunting with a family member when he encountered an abandoned vehicle on a United States Forest Service (USFS) road in the Klamath National Forest (near Cade Mountain).  The vehicle was abandoned and a vehicular door was opened.

A California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer and SCSO deputy responded to USFS Road 17N38 near USFS Road 19N01 and the vehicle, a silver SUV with a Florida license plate affixed, was located and found to be unoccupied.  A wallet and cellular phone were found in the vehicle. There was evidence of animal intrusion within the interior of the vehicle, and dried blood was found, raising concerns about the prior occupant’s welfare.

Florida documents located in the vehicle identified the possible missing/endangered person as Mr. Alexander Navarro Rivera, 59 years-old, with a Florida address.  SCSO initiated a search and rescue (SAR) mission to locate Mr. Rivera.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “A forensic autopsy will be conducted later this week to identify the remains found by our SAR team and the analysis will attempt to determine the cause and manner of death associated with this incident.  It may take one to two weeks to identify the remains but we will work with Florida authorities to determine if the remains can be matched to the most plausible possibility – that of our suspected-missing person, Mr. Rivera.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CHP, our SAR Team Coordinator and the brave and resourceful SAR volunteers for venturing into the rugged wilderness where the vehicle was found to search for the missing person.  Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

 

 

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Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office Seeks Assistance Locating Missing Woman age 24

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

October 9, 2017

On October 5, 2017, at about 10:55 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a report of a missing woman, reportedly last seen in the Montague area at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.  Ms. Katrina Leigh Eblen, 24, is 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds, with blonde hair and green eyes.

Investigative follow-up by SCSO investigators has revealed she may have been seen during the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 4, in the Montague area.  A regional bulletin has been disseminated to all law enforcement agencies in an effort to locate Ms. Eblen but thus far, no sign of her has been reported by federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies.  SCSO investigators have been working with family, friends, and associates of Ms. Eblen in an effort to locate her.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “We are very concerned about  Katrina’s welfare and are working diligently to locate her. We ask that the public and our law enforcement partners be on the lookout for Katrina.  Anyone with information about Katrina’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

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Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office Seeks Assistance Locating Missing Endangered Person

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

October 9, 2017

On October 8, 2017 at about 12:40 p.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a report of a “suspicious vehicle” from an off-duty law enforcement officer.  The officer was hunting with a family member when he encountered an abandoned vehicle on a United States Forest Service (USFS) road in the Klamath National Forest (near Cade Mountain).  The vehicle appeared to be abandoned and a vehicular door was opened.  A California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer and SCSO deputy responded to USFS Road 17N38 near USFS Road 19N01 and the vehicle, a silver SUV with a Florida license plate affixed, was located and found to be abandoned.  A wallet and cellular phone were found in the vehicle. There was evidence of animal infestation within the interior of the vehicle, and dried blood was found, raising concerns about the prior occupant’s welfare.

Identification in the vehicle was found that identified the possible missing/endangered person as Mr. Alexander Navarro Rivera, 59 years-old, with a Florida address.  SCSO has initiated a search and rescue (SAR) mission in an effort to locate Mr. Rivera.  Thus far, he has not been found and no sign of him has been reported by federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies.  SCSO’s Major Crimes Unit, including its forensic technician, is also assisting with the investigation.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “We are very concerned about Mr. Rivera’s possible disappearance and welfare.  We will know more about what happened when we get a report from our SCSO SAR Coordinator and investigators forensically process the vehicle.  Anyone with information about Mr. Rivera’s possible disappearance is urged to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

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Siskiyou Co. Sheriff’s Office updates on illegal pot, search warrants and drug raids

Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Sheriff's report

Siskiyou Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Report

September 29, 2017

 

Sheriff’s Office Illegal Marijuana & Illicit Drug Update

 

Search Warrants & Drug Raids Target Illicit Drug Operations

 

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) released the latest statistical data on illicit drug seizures made during 2017.  Operating primarily on private property using search warrants, the Siskiyou Interagency Marijuana Investigation Team (SIMIT) conducted a series of counter-drug operations in unincorporated areas of Siskiyou County, mostly in Shasta Vista, Klamath River Country Estates (KRCE) in the Hornbrook area; Weed, Lake Shastina, Montague, Big Springs, Mt. Shasta Forest, Mt. Shasta, and Iron Gate (Copco Lake area), seizing approximately 21,758 illicit cannabis (marijuana) plants.  The 103 search warrants served by SIMIT also resulted in the seizure of 3,046 pounds of processed cannabis, 23 firearms, and 3 THC extraction or “BHO” labs (concentrated cannabis).  During the counter-drug operations, a number of greenhouses, growing nurseries, outdoor cultivation sites, and two indoor illicit cannabis grows were eradicated.   Numerous criminal cases are being prepared for submission to the Siskiyou County District Attorney.

Most recently, SIMIT served 16 search warrants on September 28 and 29th in the Mt. Shasta Vista area, which resulted in the seizure of at least 1600 illicit cannabis plants and processed marijuana.  Due to the volume of the processed cannabis, the tabulation of illegal products, found mostly in plastic baggies in preparation for transportation and sale, is still underway.  An entire block of illegal cannabis cultivation sites were seized by SIMIT detectives, County Code Enforcement Officers, and a team of Siskiyou County Public Works personnel during the arduous 2-day operation.

The illicit cannabis plants (21,758) are worth an estimated $261,096,000.00 on the retail drug market with a three pound per plant yield.  The processed cannabis (3,046 pounds) is estimated to be worth at least $12,184,000.00 on the illegal retail drug market.  According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “We are still seeing large-scale illicit cannabis grow sites in many county areas and these recent operations prove there is still a large-scale effort by many illegal growers to violate the law and existing county guidelines, which do not permit more than 12 medical cannabis plants.  These 12 plants are required to be grown in an approved indoor structure.  There is also mounting evidence of large-scale, organized crime efforts to finance the numerous illicit grow sites that have been observed or eradicated. On one site in the Yuba Mate Lane area, 2,985 illegal cannabis plants were seized on one parcel.  On August 31, 2017, SIMIT and other SCSO deputies and volunteers assisted the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a bribery, corruption, and drug trafficking case that netted a total of 13 arrests and over 1,000 illegal cannabis plants.  The main suspect in that case is still in-custody and it is anticipated he and a co-conspirator will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney in the Eastern District.”

  The SCSO and the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office formed SIMIT during 2016 and the team has assumed the primary mission of enforcing drug-related laws and the county’s marijuana ordinance on private property.  The difference between this and last year is the fact the team is getting an early start on enforcing violations of cannabis cultivation laws and the corresponding county ordinance.

Thus far during 2017 and during the previous year, SIMIT investigators have encountered environmental damage inflicted by growers, including downed trees, garbage, raw sewage, illegal water diversions, chemicals and fertilizers used in cultivation sites, and other adverse impacts.  Illegal campfires on land parcels have been detected along with a number of fire hazards associated with debris piles, fuels, and hazardous substances.  CAL FIRE law enforcement officers have cited many fire hazard-related violations during several counter-drug operations.

According to Sergeant Jeremiah LaRue, “Major impacts of these illegal marijuana cultivation sites also include but are not limited to improper grading, human waste, run-off sentiment, nutrients and fertilizers leaching into the soil and watershed; improper site development, illegal road construction, run-off into streams, rivers, and lakes, illegal stream bed alternations, water thefts, and other public health and environmental concerns that adversely impact water quality and natural habitats, potentially harmful to birds, fish, other animals.”

As a reminder to all citizens, the marijuana ordinance adopted by the county does not allow outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana plants in county areas and limits growers to 12 plants, which must be cultivated in a separate indoor structure meeting county specifications and requirements.  It is important to note that it is estimated these illegal, outdoor marijuana sites, on private property alone, are expending up to 3 million gallons of water a day.  According to Sheriff Lopey, “I would also like to remind my fellow citizens that we are not seeking enforcement against legitimate medical marijuana users or recreational growers in compliance with recently-passed Proposition 64, as long as those citizens comply with the law.  Under Prop 64 or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, recreational users of cannabis may possess up to six plants and 28.5 grams of processed marijuana.”

Another task force, the California Department of Justice-led North State Major Investigation Team (NSMIT), a regional team working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and other federal, state, and local agencies, is tasked with curtailing illegal marijuana grow sites on public lands.  NSMIT, including a detective sergeant from SCSO, is investigating illicit cannabis cultivation sites on public land (mostly USFS) areas of Siskiyou County and additional counter-drug enforcement operations are planned in the near future.  NSMIT has also detected hazardous chemicals that threaten the environment in public land grows during their productive 2016 enforcement season.  NSMIT worked with the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), a federal, state, and local team that conducted a series of drug raids in public land areas within the last month and most recently, this week in the Humbug area of the Klamath National Forest.  To date, about 86,600 illegal cannabis plants have been eradicated and several arrests made. The plants seized, based on a three pound yield, could have resulted in about $1,039,200,000.00 ($1 billion+) on in illicit retail drug proceeds on the streets.

According to Sheriff Lopey, “We appreciate the information and support we are receiving from the Siskiyou County residents impacted by these illegal cultivation sites.  I urge any citizen or group to contact me or another departmental leader if they have any questions about our existing ordinance or lawful provisions of criminal law related to cannabis cultivation.  Our ultimate goal is to gain voluntary compliance from non-compliant inhabitants of the county.”

In other illicit drug news, the SCSO, in partnership with the Siskiyou Against Rx Addiction (SARA) group, a multi-disciplinary group of health care, law enforcement, and other stake holders are working together to mitigate the rising tide of overdose deaths and other adverse incidents associated with opioids.  During a recent Drug Enforcement Agency “Drug Take Back Day”, hundreds of pounds of prescription drugs were collected in various Siskiyou County sites.  At the SCSO office in Yreka and elsewhere, over 800 pounds of prescriptions drugs were turned in by area citizens, which is a record amount.  SARA has also provided SCSO and local law enforcement agencies with Naloxone or “Narcan,” an anecdote for opioid overdoses.  Lieutenant Darrell Frost of SCSO has already started training SCSO and local agencies and local deputies and officers will soon have Narcan to help save the lives of citizens suffering from an opioid overdose.  SARA is also working on other important counter-abuse strategies for opioids.

According to Sheriff Lopey, “This is a great program, we expect the Narcan anecdote to save lives in Siskiyou County, and our partnership with SARA is a great effort in response to the opioid problem in our county and nationwide.  This is a good time to remind Siskiyou County residents that the Siskiyou Unified Major Investigation Team (SUMIT), a multi-agency counter-drug team made up of SCSO, Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office, CHP, SCSO, Weed Police Department, California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control, Siskiyou County Probation Department, and the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigations, which leads the team, has been working hard to rid the county of hard drugs, including opioids.  During July and August, SUMIT made 20 drug-related arrests, including 15 felony violations of law.  14 arrests were made for heroin or methamphetamine offenses.  During July and August 2017, SUMIT investigators seized 136.28 grams of methamphetamine (worth $6,814.00), 188 grams of marijuana (worth $1,880.00); 2.12 grams of heroin (worth $212.00) and 300 ml of steroids were confiscated ($1,500.00 value).

During 2016, SUMIT investigated 101 illicit drug offenses, made 96 felony drug arrests, and seized 46,957 grams of methamphetamine, 395 pounds of cannabis, 411 grams of concentrated cannabis, 3,835 grams of heroin, 4,813 grams of cocaine, and SUMIT confiscated 12,921 illegal pills, 400 doses of LSD, and seized 19 firearms.  The value of the illicit drugs seized by SUMIT totaled $3,928,377.00.  According to Sheriff Lopey, “SUMIT is truly doing an outstanding job with its member agencies to respond to the overwhelming illicit drug problems we have within the county and it is also important to add that Interstate 5, US 97, and SR 96 are major smuggling corridors used by drug trafficking organizations.  The CHP and other agencies have made numerous large-scale seizures on our highways in recent months.  Thus far this year, SUMIT is on-track to exceed arrests and seizures made during 2016.”

Sergeant LaRue added, “Anyone with information about an illegal marijuana cultivation site is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.  Citizens may also contact the Siskiyou County Planning Department (Community Development) to report suspected ordinance violations related to non-permitted structures, septic tanks, well issues, trash, fencing, and similar ordinance violations at (530) 841-2100.  Citizens with information about illicit drug activities that are non-cannabis related such as methamphetamine, heroin or other illicit drugs are urged to contact SUMIT at (530) 842-8374, or the SCSO 24-hour Dispatch Center.  Sheriff Lopey is also offering to conduct town hall meetings on request to further educate the public about marijuana-related laws or issues involving other illicit drugs.  In partnership with the Siskiyou County’s Department of Health and Human Services, a youth anti-drug and safety program (DARE) will resume this fall in targeted schools to further educate our children about the dangers associated with illicit drug, tobacco, and alcohol use.  The program also discusses other topics such as bullying and how to fight back against the exploitation and abuse of children and how to identify and report such inappropriate behaviors to the proper authorities.”

Recently, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a proclamation declaring a “local state of emergency” in Siskiyou County due to the overwhelming number of illegal cannabis cultivation sites in the county on public and private properties, which present significant public health, safety, and environmental dangers to the county and its citizens.  According to Sheriff Lopey, “This proclamation should result in additional support from federal and state agencies and I am working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement and resource management agencies to more effectively mitigate the catastrophic illicit marijuana problem that has taken a stronghold in our county.  Additional resources are scheduled to arrive next week.  I have discussed this issue with state and local officials and a meeting of North State sheriffs held on Thursday, September 28th, outlined some possible law enforcement mutual aid plans to collectively mitigate the illicit drug trafficking that currently is wreaking havoc and potentially catastrophic impacts in virtually all Northern California counties.  I commend the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, Senator Ted Gaines, and our county administrator, and many others for supporting our proclamation and our efforts to mitigate the illegal drug trafficking that has plagued our county for too long.  We are attempting to stop lawlessness, preserve our environment, protect our most vulnerable populations such as children and teenagers, and we are honoring the countless calls for help from our citizens reporting numerous ‘quality of life’ issues impacting them in our county.”

 

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Siskiyou Co. Sheriff Jon Lopey will update the marijuana mess at the Yreka Tea Party Patriots 9-26-17

Sheriff Jon Lopey, TEA Party

Yreka Tea Party Patriots


Meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 26th


6:30 PM

at the Covenant Chapel Church
200 Greenhorn Rd. Yreka


Speaker:
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey
Update on illegal Marijuana is Siskiyou County
And
SB 54..California becoming a Sanctuary State
Learn how will it affect Siskiyou County


Free….no membership.

Doors open at 6PM, come early to socialize with like minded people.

Contact Louise @ 530-842-5443

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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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Judge fully dismisses voter intimidation suit

Lawsuits, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou County

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

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