Category Archives: Enforcement

CDFW Serves Search Warrants on Illegal Marijuana Grows in Trinity and Shasta Counties

Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served search warrants on five illegal marijuana grows in Trinity and Shasta counties.

A record check on each property showed no state license or county permit to grow cannabis, no CDFW Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement had been filed, nor were any steps taken to secure any of these licenses or permits on any of the commercial-size operations.

“Illegal marijuana cultivation has no place in today’s regulated cannabis market,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “Individuals who destroy our environment and continue to cultivate illegally produced marijuana will be held accountable.”

On June 4 and 5, CDFW served two search warrants in Shasta County where commercial cannabis cultivation is prohibited. The first warrant was served off of Spootsy Drive in the Montgomery Creek area where wildlife officers discovered 1,752 outdoor marijuana plants. Two suspects were arrested, eight firearms were seized along with $12,000 in U.S. currency. The second search warrant was served off of Nathaniel Lane also in the Montgomery Creek area where wildlife officers discovered 948 outdoor marijuana plants. One suspect was arrested.

On June 6 ,13 and 18, wildlife officers served three search warrants in Trinity County. The first warrant was served off of Barker Creek Road near the town of Hayfork. Officers found approximately 5,273 outdoor marijuana plants and detained eight suspects. On June 13, CDFW served a search warrant in the Swift Creek Watershed off of Rancheria Creek Road and found over 1,500 outdoor marijuana plants. Two suspects were detained. On June 18, wildlife officers served a search warrant in the 100 block of Our Road in the Burnt Ranch area. Officers discovered 2,425 illegal marijuana plants and seized five firearms, which included a .223 caliber assault rifle.

Fish and Game Code violations for all grows included illegal water diversions, pesticide and petroleum products placed near streams, sediment discharge and garbage placed near waterways. Charges for all suspects will be filed with the respective county District Attorney’s office for consideration.

“Seemingly harmless cultivation activities such as water diversions and land clearing can substantially disrupt wildlife behaviors and severely damage the habitats they rely on to eat, breed and survive,” said Jennifer Nguyen, CDFW’s Cannabis Program Director.

CDFW’s cannabis program consists of scientists and law enforcement officers and is a critical component of California’s transition into a regulated cannabis industry. Staff work with cultivators to bring their facilities into compliance, provide assistance in remediating environmental violations, and facilitate enforcement actions with other local agencies to remove illegal grows. Learn more about CDFW’s role at www.wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis.

CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting information to “TIP411 (847411)”.

###

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

 

Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Prosecutor Honored for Pursuit of Justice in Wildlife Crimes

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Fish and Game Commission are pleased to name Jessica Brown, Supervising City Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office as 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. Brown oversees the Environmental Justice Unit in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which includes a team of superb prosecutors, all of whom are highly dedicated to the successful prosecution of fish and wildlife cases.

Jessica Brown
Jessica Brown, 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year

“The Los Angeles City Attorney’s team of Environmental Justice Unit prosecutors, and especially Ms. Brown, have worked tirelessly to prosecute poachers and to send a clear message that poaching and trafficking of wildlife will not be tolerated,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Ms. Brown is a true asset to the protection of California’s natural resources and has displayed exceptional skill and an outstanding commitment with her relentless pursuit of justice.”

The following are just a few examples of her tenacious work.

  • Brown and her team prosecuted some of the first ivory trafficking cases in California, including winning convictions in the first two ivory cases to go to jury trial, since the Legislature strengthened the law to prohibit ivory trafficking in July 2016. The multi-week trials involved litigating a vast array of legal topics related to the recently enacted statute, including developing jury instructions, crafting complex pretrial motions and arguing numerous legal concepts during trial. Brown and her team demonstrated exceptional cooperation with wildlife officers, wildlife forensic specialists and the CDFW Office of General Counsel throughout all stages of these trials, from pretrial preparation through sentencing. “It was critical to prosecute these first ivory trafficking cases right the first time since it would set the stage for future prosecution of similar cases,” said Chief Bess.
  • Brown and her team were instrumental in the filing of complex cases related to interstate seafood trafficking. This joint law enforcement operation involved wildlife officers from California, Maine and Hawaii and resulted in several Fish and Game Code violations against numerous retail establishments. During the operation, Brown went above and beyond in conducting her own investigations into records violations, which significantly contributed to the successful outcome of this case.
  • Brown and her team prosecuted a recent high-profile restricted species possession case involving a monkey. Another case involved a convicted drug dealer who illegally possessed a tiger. CDFW and the Commission hope the cases will have long-term deterrence impacts and help educate people that exotic pets do not belong in unpermitted homes, owned by people who lack the qualifications to properly care for them.
  • Brown and her team have also regularly assisted CDFW wildlife officers with marine enforcement cases involving unlicensed commercial passenger fishing vessels, resulting in positive marine conservation benefits for the state. Brown understands the importance of California’s ocean’s resources and takes action against those who illegally exploit them for personal gain.

If all this was not enough, Ms. Brown and her team have shared their knowledge and expertise with fellow prosecutors by spearheading a statewide prosecution task force dedicated to stopping wildlife trafficking. Prosecutors around the state now have additional resources to facilitate successful prosecutions of cases concerning the illegal commercialization of wildlife, with significant credit going to Brown.

“I certainly understand why the CDFW and the Commission are honoring Jessica Brown as Prosecutor of the Year,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “I’m a big fan. Jessica’s determination to protect the environment and our wildlife – and hold accountable those who violate the law – is an example for all of us. My colleagues and I are inspired by her commitment, passion and hard work.”

As the supervising attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit, Brown’s steadfast dedication to CDFW’s cases has earned her the respect of wildlife officers and she has been instrumental in advancing the successful prosecution of CDFW cases in California. Her devotion to the protection and conservation of California’s natural resources makes her worthy of this recognition.

 

###

CDFW Graduates Six New Warden K-9s

May is graduation season and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division K-9 Academy is no exception. Six new K-9s graduated from the program today and are now ready to put their skills in law enforcement and environmental protection to work.

All of the dogs are trained to detect illegally taken wildlife, invasive species, hidden firearms, expended casings and other evidence or articles. About half of CDFW’s K-9s are dual purpose, meaning they do detection work but also protect their handlers, other law enforcement officers, and the public and aid in the apprehension of suspects.

The new teams and their upcoming assignments are as follows:

  • Warden Shane Embry and K-9 Link. Link is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. Dual Purpose team assigned to Humboldt County.
  • Warden Michael Hampton and K-9 Leeloo. Leeloo is a 3-year-old German Shepherd. Detection team assigned to Humboldt County.
  • Warden Michael Beals and K-9 Rage. Rage is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. Dual Purpose team assigned to Glenn County.
  • Warden Jeffrey Moran and K-9 Tess. Tess is a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois. Detection team assigned to Stanislaus County.
  • Warden Casey Thomas and K-9 Canna. Canna is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. Dual Purpose team assigned to Marijuana Permitting.
  • Warden Nick Molsberry and K-9 Scout. Scout is a 2-year-old English Springer Spaniel. Detection team assigned to Orange County.

Today’s graduation followed eight weeks of intensive training to bring the dogs’ behavior and field responses up to the standards of detection and handler protection required by CDFW and California Peace Officers Standards and Training.

“Our Warden K-9 teams have dramatically increased the officer safety during some very dangerous missions in the backcountry, and have helped us track down and arrest hundreds of felony suspects,” said Lt. Bob Pera, CDFW K-9 program coordinator. “Then the next day, they may put on a demonstration at a public event or school function where they inevitably garner the attention of all present and help gain support for CDFW law enforcement programs.”

Notably, the teams have already begun to show their mettle in the field. Just after their formal certification May 22, Warden Beals and his new K-9 partner Rage joined two veteran K-9 teams, Warden Aaron Galway and K-9 partner Ghille and Warden Nick Buckler and K-9 partner Beedo, for a first patrol. Just nine minutes into the shift, they observed a vehicle committing several driving violations on Highway 36 near Red Bluff. The driver made some headway before they could make the stop. It took some investigative effort to realize a passenger had hopped out of the vehicle earlier and ran off to hide in the brush. Rage deployed and soon located a lighter and a hat off the side of the road 400 yards from the where the vehicle came to a stop. Rage immediately started directly on the track while Ghille came in from a different angle. Warden Buckler and Beedo deployed in an adjacent canyon to cut off any possible escape. Rage tracked the suspect to his hiding place about the same time Warden Galway and Ghille established visual contact. The suspect quickly surrendered for fear of sustaining a bite. He had outstanding warrants for 15 felony violations in North Carolina and had been on the run for more than 12 years.

“CDFW K-9s are selected for drive, determination and obedience. Then they are intensively trained for work specific to wildlife law enforcement,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “The dogs absolutely love what they do, as do their handlers. And at the end of the day, they ask for nothing in return other than a favorite rubber ball, lavish praise and belly scratches.”

CDFW’s K-9 program is funded largely by private donations through the California Wildlife Officers Foundation and handlers thank them for their continued support.

###

Media Contacts:
Lt. Kyle Kroll, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (530) 575-5736
Warden Kyle Glau, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (530) 559-7542

CDFW Confirms Mountain Lion Responsible for San Diego Attack

Wildlife officers and forensics scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have concluded their investigation of the mountain lion attack at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego County. A complete mountain lion genetic profile was obtained from the samples collected from the young boy who was attacked on Memorial Day, which was found to be identical to the profile obtained from the mountain lion killed the day of the incident. This DNA analysis conclusively proves the mountain lion is the exact one that attacked the victim.

On Monday, May 27, in the afternoon, wildlife officers responded to the park where the 4-year-old boy was being treated by San Diego Fire-Rescue after sustaining a non-life-threatening injury consistent with a mountain lion attack. The boy was part of a group of 11 people recreating in the park at the time.

The wildlife officers identified mountain lion tracks at the scene. Very shortly thereafter and in the same area, a mountain lion approached the officers. The lion appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion. The wildlife officers immediately killed the animal to ensure public safety and to collect forensic evidence to potentially match the mountain lion to the victim. The officers collected clothing and other samples from the boy. Those samples, plus scrapings from underneath the mountain lion’s claws, were sent to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento for DNA analysis.

CDFW emphasizes that despite this incident, the probability of being attacked by a mountain lion is very low. The last confirmed lion attack in California (which was also non-fatal) occurred in 2014. For more information on how to co-exist with mountain lions and other wildlife in California, and what to do if confronted by a threatening wild animal, go to the CDFW Keep Me Wild webpage.

###

Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692
Lt. Scott Bringman, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (858) 864-2520

CDFW Wildlife Officers Investigating Suspected Mountain Lion Attack

Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are investigating a suspected mountain lion attack at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego County. On Monday, May 27, in the afternoon, wildlife officers responded to the park where a 4-year-old boy was treated by San Diego Fire-Rescue after sustaining a non-life threatening injury consistent with a mountain lion attack. The boy was part of a group of 11 people recreating in the park at the time. The details of how the suspected attack occurred are not yet available.

While the wildlife officers were conducting their investigation at the scene, they identified mountain lion tracks. Very shortly thereafter and in the same area, a mountain lion approached the officers. The lion appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion. The wildlife officers immediately dispatched the animal to ensure public safety. The wildlife officers collected clothing and other samples from the boy. Those samples, plus the carcass, are en route to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento for a necropsy and DNA analysis. CDFW wildlife forensics specialists will attempt to confirm that this animal was responsible for the attack.

The Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is part of the city of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department. CDFW Lt. Scott Bringman will be available to discuss the investigation with the media at 11 a.m. at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve near the intersection of Black Mountain Road and Mercy Road.

###