HUMBOLDT COUNTY - On June 23, 2021, deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) served three search warrants to investigate illegal cannabis cultivation in the Willow Creek area. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Environmental Health - HazMat Unit and Humboldt County Code Enforcement assisted in the service of the warrants.
Three parcels were investigated during the service of the warrant. The parcels did not possess the required county permit and state license to cultivate cannabis commercially.
During the service of the warrants, 3,880 growing cannabis plants were eradicated. More than 1,449 pounds of processed cannabis were seized and destroyed.
At one parcel, law enforcement officers located evidence of bear poaching. At another parcel, deputies found that the illegal cannabis cultivation operation was being powered by a large diesel generator. The generator’s exhaust had been tunneled underground, causing a burned area within the nearby forest from the hot exhaust exiting at ground level.
“The illegal cultivation of cannabis in our state is harming our environment and putting public safety at risk. In addition, it is working against licensed cultivators who not only have applied for the proper permits and licenses, but abide by rules and regulations to produce a quality product for consumers and to protect soil and water supplies.”
Assisting agencies found the following violations:
- Poaching (FG 2000)
- Failure to label hazardous waste violations (up to $70,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Failure to establish a hazardous materials business plan (HMBP) (up to $5,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Failure to prepare a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan (up to $5,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Failure to obtain authorization to store or dispose of hazardous waste (up to $70,000 fine per day, per violation)
- Failure to acquire an EPA ID number (up to $70,000 fine per day, per violation)
Additional violations with civil fines are expected to be filed by the assisting agencies.
No arrests were made during the service of the warrant. The case will be forwarded to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office for review and prosecution.