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SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. - Two illegal cannabis grows were shut down in Shasta County over the past few months by wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
On Monday some details were shared about a bust in Lakehead that occurred on Feb. 11, and one in Anderson that occurred on Jan. 30. The two sites may be connected to each other, according to Fish and Wildlife officers.
Warrants leading to the busts were based on suspected environmental violations associated with illegal commercial cannabis cultivation. Support for the warrant searched was provided by the U.S. Forest Service, Central Valley Regional Water Board, and Shasta County Environmental Health Division and Code Enforcement.
Neither site in Shasta County was in an area where commercial cultivation is allowed. Officers said no steps were taken to secure state licenses for the locations. Shasta County does not allow outdoor commercial cannabis cultivation, but there are a small number of permitted and licensed indoor cannabis grows in incorporated areas.
In Lakehead on Feb. 11, 2020 officers located structures with wooden floors on raised cinder blocks which held 4,302 cannabis plants and 24 pounds of processed cannabis.
Two illegal diversions were identified by scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. They also said they found huge amounts of garbage near a waterway and evidence of a registered pesticide being applied to the plants, which is prohibited for use on cannabis and food productions. Improperly stored diesel fuel may have impacted groundwater and nearby tributaries.
In Anderson on Jan. 30, 2020 officers found 2,947 cannabis plants and 151 pounds of processed cannabis in structures similar to those found in Lakehead.
Officers also discovered several hundred gallons of illegal stored diesel fuel which they said had been discharging into the soil and had the potential to reach groundwater and nearby tributaries.
Officers said they did not find any dead of impaired wildlife but said they are continuing to monitor for the latent effects of the petroleum spill.
Four men and three women were detained during the operation, and according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, a formal complaint is being filed with the Shasta County District Attorney's Office for illegal cultivation and other multiple violations of the Health and Safety and Fish and Game codes. Other county violations may be included in charges out of the D.A.'s office.
David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division said, "Illegal cannabis grows put compliant cannabis operators at a disadvantage and can be extremely harmful to the environment.'
"Black market cultivation will not be tolerated in California and those engaging in this behavior should take notice," warned Chief Bess.
You can report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258. CLICK HERE to learn more about CDFW's role in commercial cannabis cultivation.