MENDOCINO COUNTY - On March 11, 2021, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant on an illegal cannabis site located in Hopland. Law enforcement officers discovered and eradicated 3,411 growing cannabis plants. In addition, they detained five people who were determined by investigators to be recruited from Sonoma County by the property owner. As part of the recruitment, the individuals were going to be paid to reside at the location to cultivate the growing cannabis plants.
During the service of the search warrant, the property owner arrived on scene. Investigators believe he intended to sell the cannabis to a dispensary in Sonoma County. investigators also determined the property owner had applied for permits but had built nine additional hoop style growing houses that were not on his county or state permit applications.
CDFW personnel located ten environmental related violations.
No arrests were made on scene and further investigations are ongoing at this time.
Once the investigative reports are completed, the reports will be forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for potential criminal charging.
On February 27, 2021, the Hopland Fire Department was dispatched to a large fire on the property. When firefighters arrived, they were denied access onto the property which prompted a call to the Sheriff's Office for assistance.
A Sheriff's Sergeant responded and was able to ultimately gain access onto the property along with the firefighters.
While on the property the Sheriff's Sergeant developed information that suggested the cannabis growing operation was not in compliance with the law. Further investigation lead to the issuance of the search warrant.
During the March 11th search warrant, investigators found a burn pile that contained plastic, an old bed, garbage, cans, bottles, and old marijuana/cannabis plants. Garbage and soil was found near a waterway leading to the environmental related violations. In addition, a water pipe was found in a creek and was believed to pull/divert water for the cannabis growing operation.
“Local and state law enforcement officers are working together to protect the public and the environment by shutting down illegal cannabis sites,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “In addition, they are protecting California’s economy and licensed operations.”