Ten people were detained at a large illegal marijuana farm Tuesday morning at Mendocino County’s Round Valley Indian Reservation, where San Jose detectives sought clues about a missing man believed to have been working in the cannabis industry before his disappearance in April.
Authorities served a search warrant on the patch of rural land, located near Covelo on Rifle Range Road next to Mill Creek, at about 8:20 a.m., Mendocino County sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney said.
There, deputies found more than 22,100 cannabis plants inside 55 hoop houses, or long dome-shaped greenhouses made with PVC pipes and plastic tarps. Burned cars, tires and other garbage littered the grow site, which was started less than two months ago, Barney said.
One person ran away into a brushy hillside upon the deputies’ arrival and had not been located by Tuesday afternoon, Barney said.
Authorities detained two women and eight men. The Sheriff’s Office withheld their names because they were still being questioned and had not been formally arrested, according to Barney. Most were not tribal members living on the property.
The missing man, Victor Medina, 29, was not located on the property, Barney said.
Tuesday’s search came in response to an influx of reports from Round Valley Indian Reservation residents about multiple illegal marijuana grows throughout the reservation, which were erected by people outside the Round Valley Indian Tribes over the last few months, Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall said.
The presence of the marijuana grows, which have led to violence and even death on the reservation in years past, caused residents and tribal elders to grow wary about hunting, fishing and other travel through the area, he added.
“I’m not going to put up with it,” Kendall said in a video published online Tuesday. “We can’t have people intimidated and held in their homes for fear that they can’t use the land that belongs to them.”
Mendocino County authorities searching the property Tuesday were assisted by deputies with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and detectives with the San Jose Police Department who were investigating Medina’s disappearance, Barney said. Medina told his wife he was at the grow site during their last phone conversation.
The San Jose Police Department provided few details about their investigation, though it did say Medina was reported missing on April 24. He was last seen in a video phone conversation four days earlier while in Covelo, San Jose police spokeswoman Officer Gina Tepoorten said in an email.
A biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife also inspected the area next to Mill Creek, a local spawning ground for steelhead trout, Barney said. Once the biologist’s report is completed, the findings will be forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office to determine if charges for environmental violations are warranted, he said.
On Wednesday May 6 :
Two men arrested at the illegal marijuana farm on Mendocino County’s Round Valley Indian Reservation were identified by authorities Wednesday afternoon, while eight other people found on the property were released because of concerns they might carry the coronavirus into the Mendocino County Jail, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney said.
Perrin Hoaglen, 69, lived on the property raided by authorities Tuesday morning, where more than 22,000 marijuana plants were located. He was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of conspiring to operate the marijuana grow and for being a felon in possession of ammunition, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies found ammunition inside Hoaglen’s home at the grow site during Tuesday’s search of the property on Refuge Road in Covelo. Because Hoaglen is a convicted sex offender, he is barred from owning the rounds, Barney said.
Adrian Silva Farias, 24, of Monroe, Washington, also was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to grow marijuana illegally, as well as marijuana cultivation and being armed during the commission of a felony. Authorities found a small caliber handgun in Farias’s car during their raid, Barney said.
Both men were released on $0 bail due to a statewide mandatory bail schedule adopted early last month in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which allows people suspected of minor and nonviolent crimes to be released without putting up money for bail.
The eight other people, five of whom were from San Jose, were not arrested due to concerns that they may carry the disease into the jail, and because they were suspected of committing only misdemeanor crimes at the onset of the investigation, Barney said.
The eight other people were identified and released. Authorities identified the eight others as 36-year-old Amanda Garica of Covelo, 19-year-old Juan Flores of Clearlake, 33-year-old Nayeli Salas of Madera, 18-year-old Primitivo Farias of San Jose, 26-year-old Victorio Doval of San Jose, 21-year-old Juan Cuevas Rubio of San Jose, 21-year-old Armondo Ramirez Reyes of San Jose and 23-year-old Luis Picazo of San Jose.
“They’re coming in from San Jose in Santa Clara County, and that’s a hotspot for COVID,” Barney said.
The suspects’ roles on the marijuana farm are still under investigation, however, and authorities will decide later whether to forward cases for the eight people who were released to prosecutors, who could decide to file charges, Barney said.
San Jose police detectives also helped search the property, which is thought to be the last known location of a San Jose man reported missing to the agency on April 24. Three search dogs combed the area for the man, Victor “Gallo” Medina, 29, but he was not located.
Chemicals used for marijuana cultivation were located in addition to 55 greenhouses where plants were stored, as well as a drain that ran through the property and into the nearby Mill Creek, authorities said. An environmental report of the location by the California Fish and Wildlife Department is pending.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies began investigating the property last month after tribe members voiced concerns about the marijuana garden and others like it on the Round Valley Indian Reservation, the Sheriff’s Office said. Some of the growers, who were coming from outside of the reservation, were reportedly invited onto properties on the reservation by tribal members, while others were not. Reports of gunfire and acts of intimidation associated with the marijuana gardens followed, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Posted by a local:
This is obviously NOT an official Missing Person’s Report poster but one made up by Medina’s family. I also do not find official evidence that Benjamin Reynosa is the prime suspect, however, it is logical that he was involved, as he was residing at Victor Medina’s San Jose home and arrived first at the house, gathered his possessions and left the residence. Victor was supposed “to be right behind me” Benjamin told Victor’s wife Maria. Victor Medina never showed up and then a ransom call was placed to her. The Medina family called the police and later Victor’s car was found smoldering near Hollister , Ca, an agricultural area south of San Jose with a high in flux of seasonal laborers.
California’s recreational marijuana market launched at the beginning of 2018, but two years on, the illicit market is still alive and well. A report released last year found that the state’s unregulated cannabis market is three times larger than the regulated industry established by a ballot referendum in 2016, and that there remains about 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services throughout the state, compared with only 873 licensed marijuana dealers.
The United Cannabis Business Association, which represents licensed pot dealers in California, has complained about the persistence of the unregulated market, lobbying regulators and lawmakers in the state to crack down on services like Weedmaps, an app that allows users to locate dispensaries near them.
Please follow and like us: