Firearms, Poaching and Trash Discovered at Protected Ecological Reserve
On July 12, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) shut down a black market marijuana operation on state property in Sacramento County. This was part of a complex investigation conducted by CDFW’s special operations unit.
Support was provided by the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, which included the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Justice, the National Guard and other allied agencies who assisted wildlife officers with the eradication and reclamation efforts.
The illegal grow consisted of two side by side properties: one parcel was owned by CDFW and the other was owned by The Nature Conservancy. Both properties are part of the Cosumnes River Preserve.
“Discovering thousands of illegal marijuana plants on CDFW property and just 25 miles from the State Capitol demonstrates the brazen actions of those involved in the black market marijuana trade,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “There’s no question that operations of this nature prevent the legal cannabis market from thriving. The extra resources provided by Governor Newsom’s administration to shutdown illegal cultivation sites like this one are greatly needed and made this mission possible.”
During the mission, over 15,000 plants were eradicated, 3,000 pounds of processed marijuana was seized, three loaded firearms were confiscated and evidence of a poached deer was discovered. Prior to the operation, wildlife officers also observed the suspects shipping out more than 400 pounds of processed marijuana through a rented U-Haul truck which was also confiscated.
The grow was located in sensitive wildlife habitat. The property is home to hundreds of bird species, including the greater sandhill crane and Swainson’s hawk (both listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act), more than 40 types of fish including state listed steelhead and other wildlife such as the giant garter snake, the western pond turtle, deer, fox and an occasional mountain lion.
Numerous environmental violations were documented, including a sophisticated illegal water diversion, pesticide and petroleum products placed near streams, garbage placed near waterways, habitat destruction and substantially causing environmental harm to public land. Eleven suspects were arrested during the operation. Officers also removed 1,900 pounds of trash from the site through aerial support.
CDFW encourages the public to report illegal cannabis cultivation and environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or texting information to “TIP411” (847411).
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891