The County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team led a raid on about 25 marijuana gardens on Sherwood Valley tribal land in Willits on Tuesday, assisted by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The team, including Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office personnel, arrested six people and seized 2,421 plants, along with eight firearms, off of Eastside Road. They also found 611 pounds of processed hanging marijuana and 95 pounds of processed marijuana.
Sgt. Bruce Smith with COMMET said they believe the gardens were part of an organized operation, the growers renting separate parcels on one property and being paid to trim plants.
“This is all organized. It’s not just individuals making money,” he said.
The team on Tuesday pointed out a few gardens close to the road, one with 73 plants behind a tarp fence. A large canister on that garden held remnants of a chemical fertilizer. Other gardens were scattered farther up the hill.
“It’s just out of control, is what it is,” Smith said. “It’s everywhere.”
He noticed many marijuana plants had been moved since they flew over the property four or five
weeks ago, although there was still plenty left, in various stages of growth.
The team arrived at the property at 7:02 a.m. and finished counting and shredding plants around 4 p.m. Many of the gardens were in plain sight, and the smell was pervasive, one reason for the complaints from tribe members living nearby.
Another issue with the gardens was environmental violations, which raise a cultivation misdemeanor arrest to a felony. One man on Tuesday was arrested on suspicion of being a felon with a firearm, also a felony.
Many gardens had been illegally diverting water, and others were cutting into the ground, causing loose sediment that will likely end up in the nearby creek, said Smith.
Smith said COMMET had been working on the Eastside Road raid for about two months, after the
Sherwood Valley tribal chairman brought the issue to the MCSO. The tribal council voted to allow law enforcement to eradicate the plants, according to Sheriff Tom Allman. Residents near the gardens had been complaining since long before then, Smith said.
Allman brought up the issue of grows on tribal land to the Board of Supervisors earlier this month, saying they are out of control.
“The free reign of marijuana has to be reeled in,” he said then.
Smith said COMMET is on the Round Valley Reservation in Covelo every year, and he has heard that growers there have been trading meth to maintain gardens on the property, instead of money. Last year, they raided Pomo land in Hopland, and the Pinoleville Pomo in Ukiah the year before that.