Sheriff William Honsal released a video today to address what he says are some of the questions that have come up in the last 24 hours since the National Guard began surveying areas of Humboldt County for “illicit cannabis” grows.
In the Facebook video, Honsal says the ultimate goal is to bring those growers into compliance.
“The National Guard is here at my request and they’re working with us to assist us with the illicit marijuana industry that has been a problem here in Humboldt County for years,” he says.
Honsal emphasizes that those who are permitted or are in the permit process are “not in our cross-hairs” and those growers “don’t have anything to fear” when they see a helicopter. It is, he says, “the people outside the permit process who should know we are coming.”
“The sheriff’s office plan for summer is to serve search warrants using a multi-disciplinary team approach,” Honsal says.
The sheriff also states that his office is “complaint driven” and anonymous reports about potentially illegal grows can be make to the sheriff’s office hotline, noting many tips have come in from “licensed marijuana cultivators.”
Watch the full video below.
The National Guard will be assisting the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office in eradicating cannabis in the next few days, spokesperson Samantha Karges confirmed, saying that a military style helicopter reported to be flying over a number of areas Monday was with the National Guard.
The collaboration will continue “this week” and “throughout the summer,” she said.
A number of residents from Hyampon to the coast and Piercy to State Route 299 reported seeing a dark green, military style helicopter flying low and circling rural areas Monday. However, no raids were reported.
Multiple agencies including the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office were assisted by the National Guard at the end of June, serving search warrants on alleged illegal marijuana grows in the Hayfork area. In a few days, the agencies served 15 warrants and detained 23 suspects, according to Department of Fish and Wildlife Information Officer Janice Mackey.
“The operations yielded an estimated 12,548 illegal marijuana plants, 801 pounds of processed marijuana, 15 firearms and $435,875 in U.S. currency,” she said.
In the following days, sounds of choppers are certain to ratchet up the paranoia levels of marijuana growers who have faced decades of eradication efforts. However, PG&E will also be conducting flyovers in the region starting today, according to a press release issued by the company, which states it will “fly helicopters along electric distribution lines in Humboldt and Lake Counties to survey the lines for improved electric reliability.”
Read the PG&E release below:
The lines to be surveyed are in the following areas:
July 9: Garberville and Fortuna – Capetown, Petrolia, Honeydew
July 10: Garberville and Fortuna – Blocksburg, Alderpoint, Cummings
July 11: Lake County – Kelseyville, Lower Lake, Hidden Valley
A Bell 206-L4 will fly between the hours of 8:00 am through 3:30 PM through July 11. Airports used potentially include, the Arcata-Eureka Airport, Humboldt County Airport in McKinleyville, Ukiah Municipal Airport and the Garberville Airport.