On July 26th, 2021

California State Law Enforcement Officers Assist with Marijuana Enforcement Operation Watershed Protection Operation in Humboldt County

“California law enforcement officers are working to protect our fish and wildlife but identifying illegal cannabis cultivation that is drawing water from streams and rivers.  This is especially important during our drought year.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona

 

HUMBOLDT COUNTY - During the week of July 19-22, 2021, deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) served 23 search warrants to investigate illegal cannabis cultivation in four Humboldt County watersheds.

Agencies assisting with search warrant service include:

  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife,
  • El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, Tri County Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT),
  • Humboldt County Code Enforcement, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services - Environmental Health,
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) CalCannabis,
  • California State Water Resources Control Board and California Division of Water Rights

 

According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office: Numerous parcels were investigated during the service of the warrants in the Redwood Creek, Steelhead/Powers Creek, Salmon Creek and Roach/Tulley Creek watersheds. Through scientific studies, these watersheds were identified to be losing waterflow at an alarming rate due to illegal commercial cannabis cultivation. The watersheds are home to protected species such as Coho and Chinook salmon, and Steelhead trout who are already faced with unprecedented drought conditions. Illegal cultivation activities during a drought year put an exuberant amount of pressure on already strained fish and wildlife resources. This week’s eradication effort will help to conserve salmon and steelhead habitat critical for species survival.

None of the parcels investigated possessed the required county permit and state license to cultivate cannabis commercially. In total, law enforcement officers  eradicated more than 35,000 growing cannabis plants and documented approximately 97 environmental violations. During the service of the search warrants, environmental scientists and law enforcement found and documented severe damage to the watersheds. Additionally, juvenile salmonoids were located in dammed pools in the watersheds where water was being pumped out of with large gasoline-powered water pumps.

The following statistics and photographs were recorded during these investigations.

 

  1. Redwood Creek Watershed

On July 19, 2021, teams served seven warrants on parcels in the Redwood Creek Watershed. During the service of the warrants, deputies eradicated approximately 17,082 growing cannabis plants. Deputies seized and destroyed over 618 pounds of cannabis bud and over 3,580 pounds of processed cannabis.

Assisting agencies found the following violations:

  • Twelve (12) water diversion violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation);
  • Three (3) water pollution violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation);
  • Four (4) depositing trash in or near a waterway violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation).

 

2. Steelhead/Powers Creek Watershed

On July 20, 2021, teams served eight warrants on parcels in the Steelhead/Powers Creek Watershed. During the service of the warrants, deputies eradicated approximately 8,918 growing cannabis plants. Deputies seized and destroyed over 17 pounds of cannabis bud and over 1,310 pounds of processed cannabis.

Assisting agencies found the following violations:

  • Twenty-three (23) water diversion violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation);
  • Nineteen (19) water pollution violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation);
  • Sixteen (16) depositing trash in or near a waterway violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation).

3. Salmon Creek Watershed

On July 21, 2021, teams served four warrants on parcels in the Salmon Creek Watershed. During the service of the warrants, deputies eradicated approximately 2,205 growing cannabis plants.

Assisting agencies found the following violations:

  • Six (6) water diversion violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation);
  • Two (2) water pollution violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation);
  • Four (4) depositing trash in or near a waterway violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation).

4. Roach /Tulley Creek Watershed

On July 22, 2021, teams served four warrants on parcels in the Roach /Tulley Creek Watershed. During the service of the warrants, deputies eradicated approximately 6,922 growing cannabis plants. Deputies seized and destroyed over 55 pounds of processed cannabis.

Assisting agencies found the following violations:

  • Six (6) water diversion violations (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation);
  • Two (2) water pollution violations (up to $20,000 fine per day, per violation).

No arrests were made during the service of the warrants. The cases will be forwarded to the DA’s Office for review. Additional violations with civil fines are expected to be filed by the assisting agencies.

 

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