86,500+ Plants Worth $26 Million Seized During Massive California Raids

Image of Giant Bladder used to store water via Press Democrat

On Thursday, news broke that local Northern California police forces in conjunction with California’s Fish and Wild Life Services were in the process of conducting sweeping raids in the Emerald Triangle, where outdoor marijuana flourishes endlessly. As does harm to mother nature.

The busts heavily cited “environmental damage” (see: using too much water) as the cause, and at that juncture, more than 15,000 plants had been seized. With the sweeps now (hopefully) over, the finally tally is in, and it’s a doozy of a raid: over 86,500 plants in total were snatched by authorities with an estimated value of $26 million.

That’s no a misprint. And needlessly to say, it’s one of the largest busts in the history of the Emerald Triangle, particularly in recent history. According to authorities, all the grows were illegal and operated on 40-160 acres of land.

As this press release from Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office shows, the widespread raids reaped serious returns for the police officers–while leaving many Northern California farmers in a world of hurt:

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office served (7) seven search warrants on (7) seven separate parcels of property. The search warrants were for commercial marijuana growing operations located in over 40 separate large green house type structures on the parcels of property. The search warrants were served on parcels of property located off Hogtrap Road and South Face Road, Island Mountain. The search warrants were served from Monday, June 22, 2015 through Thursday, June 25, 2015. No suspect(s) were located on the parcels.

The Sheriff’s Office seized or eradicated the following items from the search warrants:

23,211 marijuana plants.
4,394 pounds of processed marijuana.
15 pounds of marijuana hash in brick form.
50,000 rounds of ammunition in the following calibers, .50 caliber, .308 caliber and .556 caliber.

Deputies documented illegal dumping of garbage, unpermitted grading of land, and water diversion on the (7) parcels of property. [Local Coast Outpost]

While this plant genocide is sad, the seizures clearly don’t come without reason. Harming the environment and illegally storing water (especially in a bladder the size of the one pictured) is a crime, and one that does the environment serious damage, particularly with the always ongoing California droughts.

The law is the law and these growers broke the law with an estimated 97 environmental violations and by utilizing 500,000 gallons of water per day. Thus, in the ongoing investigations, four arrests have been made and more are coming.

But…growers in the Emerald Triangle have been making a living by using water for decades. A few bad apples certainly took things a tad too far and damaging wildlife is no joke–but outdoor plants simply need water to grow. And the Emerald Triangle is a legendary hub for growers that we can’t lose.

Surely, there must be other ways to get them the water they need, like converting ocean water into usable water (see: China). California’s lack of water isn’t just because of growers, and pinning draughts on growers use of water is not fair to the whole movement. There’s a reasonable solution somewhere that doesn’t involve raiding and destroying plants.

If this is what a world with legal weed looks like, we’re in trouble. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the old-school, outdoor growers that build Emerald Triangle into a major marijuana powerhouse. It just clearly needs to be done right and in alignment with authorities in this modern and sometimes backwards world with legal weed and new regulations.




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