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Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California, November 9, 2005 Vol 32, No. 52, Page A1, column 1
plants seized in 2005,
Last year, 27,000 marijuana plants were confiscated.
By Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press Assistant Editor, Fort Jones, California
YREKA, Calif. – During buck hunting season, a hunter accidentally walked through a marijuana plantation in the Klamath River area and immediately reported the find to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department.
“It had quite a few dying and dead plants,” said Sheriff Rick Riggins, “but there were 8,000 in there.”
The sheriff explained during a presentation to the Siskiyou Cattlemen on Oct. 29, that this plantation was probably in its first year and that last spring the growers thought they had enough water to put it in Long Gulch. But by August, the snow melt was gone and so was their irrigation water in this dry area near State Route 96. Hispanics that are part of the Mexican cartel were the growers and some of the plants had already been harvested, before the plantation was found, added Riggins. Camp sites and items found in the garden prove that the growers were part of the foreign cartel.
This was the second largest find this year.
The first was the largest ever discovered in Siskiyou County. During a cooperative training mission with the neighboring Oregon Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, more than 30,000 plants were discovered in July near Hornbrook, which is in the same Northern Siskiyou County area as the Long Gulch garden.
Then in late summer, Hispanics were stopped in the early dark morning hours over in the Salmon River area. Two vehicles were full of marijuana plants. Three Mexicans were arrested at that time, with three evading sheriff deputies. Soon after, Etna Police Chief, Josh Short, receive a tip that non-local Mexicans were at the MVP gas station. They were apprehended and arrested and are alleged to have been with the first three. Sticky marijuana bud was still sticking to their clothing, according to Chief Short.
What is interesting is that this case involved Mexicans that raided a garden, which was being grown for medical Proposition 215 marijuana users. More than 450 pounds was involved in this case.
This is becoming a “big concern,” that the medical co-ops gardens will be ripped off, said Riggins. Recently down in Yuba County, there was a “double homicide, when a garden of this type was being ripped off.”
As November approached, the marijuana task force members knew that the pot harvest was over. But the number of plants confiscated by law enforcement continues to grow each year. This year, the number reached 44,000. Last year, 27,000 was a maximum ever raided.
Sheriff Riggins praises the people of Siskiyou County for aiding his office. During the last two years, he has presented his Marijuana Power Point to 40 groups. In the presentation, he proves that at least three Mexican families, which are part of the illegal cartel, have been growing marijuana plantations in the county. Last year, a leader of the Lua family was even arrested and led to the arrest of 65 other individuals in Sacramento and near Bakersfield.
Riggins believes it is important to “educate” the citizens of Siskiyou County, so they are aware of the problem and can assist the sheriff department.
Each year continues to break records
The growth of marijuana plantations and law enforcement raids is growing throughout the state. In Shasta County, near the border with Siskiyou, over 200,000 pot plants were confiscated this year. This is an increase over previous years.
“Those directly correlated with the Mexican cartels,” said Riggins. “The majority of them were found near Shasta Lake.”
Then the sheriff explained that at the state level, the confiscation has grown as well. The Campaign Against Marijuana Program, called CAMP, is a state-funded program. In 2004, a record 600,000 plants were pulled up by law enforcement.
But in 2005, that number nearly doubled as more than 1.1 million pot plants were discovered and destroyed
The Pioneer Press at the very top of the State of California grants permission for this article to be copied and forwarded.
Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California, November Vol 32, No. 53 Page A1, column 1
Billion dollar pot business takes hit
Emergency preparedness is on sheriff’s priority list.
By Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press, Assistant Editor, Fort Jones, California
YREKA, Calif. – Law enforcement has been cracking down at the county and state level, proving that the illegal marijuana business run by the Mexican cartel is a billion dollar business.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Rick Riggins said that marijuana has a street value that averages out at $5,000 per pound. This year, law enforcement found a record number of 44,000 pot plants in Siskiyou County, which was up from the 2004 year of 27,000 plants.
If those 44,000 plants had been harvested and sold through the underground market, it would have produced $220 million – just from Siskiyou lands. And there is still an unknown amount of marijuana that is being grown in the rugged mountains.
At the state level, the Campaign Against Marijuana Program (CAMP) also continued in increase the number of plants raided and confiscated. Last year was a record year for the state with 600,000 plants found and removed.
But this year, that number almost doubled to 1.1 million plants. Multiplying the 1.1 million by the average price of $5,000 per pound, and each mature plant can produce at least one pound of prime bud, the street value is $5.5 billion. Healthy marijuana plants are carefully tended to grow as much bud as possible and now produce two and sometimes three pounds of the sticky vegetation.
Sheriff Riggins has given more than 40 slide presentations to organizations throughout the county, which show how the Mexican cartel affiliated families and groups are growing plantations and living right by them for nearly six months of the year. The kinds of tools, food and supplies prove the growers are part of the illegal foreign cartel. Most of those supplies are not purchased in the county, but have been tracked to other areas.
Preparing for public emergencies
With cooperative efforts from Bill Arruda, Sheriff Riggins was able to obtain a lease of the old Armory from the National Guard this spring. Since then, it has been painted and the roof fixed. Now the sheriff is holding a grand opening at the Armory, because its use has been expanded multi-fold.
“It was really important to get the Armory,” said Riggins, “now in any kind of a disaster, it is available – immediately.”
When the Armory was administered by the National Guard, red-tape had to be unraveled, before the building could be used – even for emergencies. Then last year, the National Guard began consolidating and the Yreka Armory was one of the buildings they intended to close. Riggins, Arruda and the county board of supervisors were able to facilitate the lease the building, which included consistent local use.
As a result, it is now the headquarters for DARE and the Office of Emergency Services. Both programs are operated through the sheriff’s department. Several rooms have been turned into classrooms and Dispatch and Critical Incident Trainings have already been held in the Armory.
The Armory will also be available as a county-wide center for PAL, the Police Athletic League that is sponsored by several different law enforcement agencies in the county.
Managing the Armory locally will also permit the Siskiyou Golden Fair to continue to utilize it.
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