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Kym is up on the events, trying to pry information out of the DEA and other authorities.
Any eye witness accounts? Someone reported in the LCO thread that a slew of names for background checks was heard over a scanner.
I’m wondering if the raids were planned to accomodate the first season of marijuana bust reality TV.
Only 5 arrests after a year-and-a-half? More thoughts later.
Addendum: Okay, I was listening to the KMUD News and Terry reported five arrests with the charge being marijuana cultivation. No money laundering, which had been the focus of the massive raids/investigation involving the FBI, Treasury Department, IRS, etc. They tore into numerous homes looking for paper. Records.
They also reportedly found 10,000 plants. Why would it have taken them a year and a half to file marijuana charges? What ever happened to the seizure actions?
Maybe this is only the beginning, and maybe the the “sealed” complaints contain additional charges not yet reported. But I’m wondering if all those horses and all those men failed to turn up enough evidence for the charges they were hoping to file.
Another possibility is that they’ve got four people whom they want to grill the and with whom they want to negotiate snitching deals for testimony. I leave out “Buddha” who was obviously the top dog in the whole thing.
It’s mostly speculation at this point, but five arrests for marijuana charges seems kind of lame given the time and (three and a half years by their reporting) resources put into this.
I don’t know which agencies, but convoys of unmarked vehicles filled with people in flack jackets have been spotted, and some individuals have been arrested. I have information that at least some of the people arrested had been caught up in the Fed Sweep of a year and a half ago, but I don’t have anything to confirm whether these arrests are a follow-up or something entirely new – except for the apparent congruence of arrestees. KMUD is looking for information. Call them at 923-2605 if you have any.
Addendum: Terry at KMUD has confirmed that this sweep is a follow-up to the 2008 sweep. The FBI won’t provide the names of those arrested or more details until tomorrow. She will mention it tonight and cover it more extensively tomorrow. She spoke to an FBI representative who confirmed that the Drug Task Force was also involved.
According to the Eureka Reporter they finished up yesterday and will be leaving Humboldt today.
They did find brownies, but didn’t confiscate them.
And they did read the blogs when the information was leaked to Heraldo prior to the busts.
And from the article as well as the TS article it does seem that conspiracy will be the central theme of the prosecutions when they happen. That could mean a lot of people being charged, and I wouldn’t be surprised if smaller groups of law enforcement return for follow-up investigations.
Addendum: Thank Jah (audio archive link in the thread) and Heraldo have more information about “Buddhaville,” some information more useful than other.
Second addendum: Thanks to a poster in the thread, here’s a video clip of one of the convoys.
Again, the authorities claim to have taken 10,000 plants which they value at 25 to 60 million. They also claim to have found machine guns.
Here’s the ER coverage which like the TS is pretty much limited to the FBI press statement.
The blogs are quiet this morning. Unfortunately, Hank Sims is on a well-deserved vacation so there’s no NCJ Blogthing activity to note. The Town Dandy is up online, but the information is already dated.
Last night KMUD aired the first interview of a sweep victim who contradicted some of the FBI claims and made them sound inaccurately grandiose.
So far no e-mails from direct witnesses of anything happening this morning. Cristina Bauss is looking for eye witness accounts of the busts for next week’s Independent. Contact her if you can help.
Addendum: I believe Ed Denson’s show is on tonight at 7:00 p.m., which will hopefully provide the first call-in comment opportunity since the raids began. Of course, there is also Thank Jah tomorrow morning.
Second addendum: According to Heraldo, KMUD is taking calls right now, until 9:30 or 10 depending on volume. One caller said that her neighbor was out fighting fires when his house was raided.
I’ve asked certain people to call or e-mail me if they see any sign of federal law enforcement. So far nothing.
There will be an interview on KSLG at 9:00 a.m.
The Times Standard has a story on the impact of rumors of the federal action beforehand, including brisk rental truck business. No word on whether the warning impacted the federal investigation.
Addendum: There has been considerable activity in Whitethorn and perhaps Whale Gulch. Nothing reported in town except for a report of a visit in Miranda.
Second addendum: I didn’t get to hear the interview, but Heraldo did and has some info (not much) up. He reports that information will be given about the locations of the activities later on today.
Third addendum: Information is starting to trickle in and I’m not going to post all of it in the interest of privacy to the families. But I have my first firm report of a family who was investigated who fits the “hippie” definition (and the first whom I know significantly well). Anyway, in addition to Whitmore there were investigations (I’m not calling them “busts” right now because I’m informed that charges will probably not be filed against everyone whose belongings were investigated) on Redway Drive, Par, and Orchard in Redway and perhaps at least one residence in Garberville. I’m informed that a boat was seized from one of those locations.
It does seem that the investigations are more about the flow of money than marijuana per se, which means that anybody who has done business in which illegal money flowed could be investigated. Basically, that means pretty much any individual or business in the county I suppose.
Fourth addendum: I received the following report from a resident to our west.
Hi Eric, Thanks for the great blog. I wanted to let you know that 90 law enforcement vehicles were reported heading out to coast–45 towards Shelter Cove, 45 towards Whitethorn– around 7:30 this morning. A report came in just now that they are out in Lost River, where they spent the day yesterday. Corralled a bunch of people who were out there (people who weren’t on their warrant list), confiscated vehicles, and released all of them by the end of the day.
A contingent also spent yesterday at a location in Whale Gulch, where one person (who wasn’t on the warrant list) had medical marijuana plants cut; at the same location a medical marijuana indoor (the person running it was also not on the warrant list) was cleaned out and the generator and lights taken away. So much for medical marijuana being honored! The person the warrant was being served on was not around, but they spent the day going through this person’s stuff, and no doubt confiscating many belongings. There have been a lot of reports of things being confiscated: vehicles, ipods, computers, etc. I also heard that at least two homes were searched in Shelter Cove, with interrogations of key “suspects”, and at least one person detained for “mouthing off” to the agents.
As the dust settles, I expect the accounts to multiply.
Fifth addendum: I don’t think it’s too soon to be calling for a public meeting. I’m sure CLMP is planning something as we speak. Probably not too soon to be discussing a legal defense fund either.
Sixth addendum: KMUD news just aired an interview with a sweep victim. It should be up soon after the broadcast. Everything from holding guns on children to refusing access to homes where animals may be languishing.
And right now Captain Brian Fesler of the Whitethorne Volunteer Fire Department is criticizing the Feds for their timing.
Apparently the whole investigation arose from a 2000 acre piece of land purchased in 2006 and sold off in parts with lots of nonpermitted construction.
More details are available in the latest Times Standard article.
Over the course of Tuesday’s activity, officers located around ten thousand marijuana plants estimated to be worth between $25 and $60 million on the street. They seized 30 firearms, including fully automatic weapons, one vehicle, and more than $160,000 in cash. No charges have been filed and none of the targets of the investigation were arrested during Tuesday’s raids. However, FBI agents arrested one man for assault on a federal agent during the execution of the search warrants.
Charge Charlene B. Thornton. “It’s a large-scale, for-profit, commercial business. The targets of our investigation are reaping huge profits while contributing to the crime and violence oppressing communities across the state.”
Beginning in early 2006, members of BNE’s Redding regional office initiated an investigation into a California-based organization which had purchased a large parcel of mountainous land in the southern Humboldt and northern Mendocino counties, and was suspected of growing large amounts of marijuana on the land and selling it for profit. Due to the large scale and scope of the investigation, BNE invited the FBI to participate.
There are more details, some of which are being vehemently disputed by residents.
Tomorrow morning at 9:00 on 94.1 KSLG, John Matthews will receive an update on Operation Southern Sweep from FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler.
I had no idea it was being called “Operation Southern Sweep.” Suggests to me that they’re here primarily for Sohum.
John does some great interviews. Maybe he’ll actually get some answers. I don’t know why the FBI and DOJ have bothered with the interviews they’ve conducted so far. They’ve said next to nothing.
And boy does the blogosphere owe Heraldo an apology!
Meanwhile, it’s all quiet tonight. I guess no arrests were made today, just seizures of personal property. No confrontational incidents reported either.
Addendum: The Times Standard article has been updated to include a video of a couple of busts and as of this posting there are 138 comments attached. Also there’s an online poll to chime in as to whether you support the action.
Second addendum: I think I’ve posted most of the relevant links, but if I missed any Rose probably has them here.
And KMUD has an audio of the pointless interview (not Cynthia’s fault, the DOJ rep just wouldn’t answer any questions) of this morning.
And there’s a discussion about the action at Cannabis.com.
Presumably the DEA too, although last week on KMUD they emphatically denied that they were here for busts. I just received a telephone call from a reputable source. I’ll follow up.
The NCJ Blogthing is reporting on developments in the north.
Addendum: Apparently they’re all over the county. It’s being reported on KHUM as “the culmination of a two year investigation” against commercial grows and not medical marijuana. Authorities are claiming that they are acting on 27 warrants.
But I’d take any official statements with a grain of salt. They’re supposed to be here for flying practice and a convention, remember?
NCJ Blogthing has an audio of a KSLG interview with Joseph Schadler of the FBI.
Second addendum: Redheaded Blackbelt comments on the NCJ blogthing – “KMUD is reporting many vehicles heading towards the coast with a “traffic jam” at Whitethorn.” But right now I’m hearing Mary Poppins songs on KMUD. Supercalifragilisticexpiallydocious.
Third addendum: Andrew Bird is reporting at Heraldo’s that a caravan went out Briceland Road just before 7:00, and that a “satellite truck” was seen on Alderpoint Road earlier this morning.
Fourth addendum: Confirmed. There is a bust at the south end of Whitmore Ave. on Redway. Four or five SUVs and DEA agents dismantling items out on the lawn.
Fifth addendum: Two individuals with FBI markings on their jackets were seen (by me) outside a home on Redway Ave. right near the intersection with Oak. I could not tell if they were in the process of a bust. They might have been checking addresses.
Sixth addendum: The Eureka Reporter has a story up.
FBI agents raided a house at 1658 Virginia Way in Sunny Brae early this morning. Around 10 a.m., agents combed through the trunk of a gray car parked in the driveway. The car had Oregon license plates.
A pile of equipment including lamps, triangular containers and hoses were spread across the yard.
It is not known if any arrests were made by agents at this time.
“I have no idea how long (FBI agents) were there,” said Bob O., who lives across the street from the house that was raided.
He stepped outside his door around 8 a.m. this morning and saw eight agents around the house across the street, he said.
He said he prefers neighbors to unoccupied grow houses and the sound of children over silence.
“The pattern is no one’s ever home,” he said regarding the house that was raided.
And Hank is reporting that the FBI rep is insisting it’s all one group. I don’t believe that, but if it’s true we are watching one of the more profound federal anti-trust actions in years.
Seventh addendum: From another blog’s comments section -
Interesting coverage with the blogs and the radio participating together. Attorney, Ed Denson, just reported on KMUD that there were door to door searches going on in Redway and Garberville. Ed made the following suggestions:
1. Do not consent to search.
2. Do not talk or engage in conversation.
3. Do not try to physically obstruct them.
I’ve got KMUD on, but KHUM and KSLG are also covering the action. And Hank has a growing display of photos at the blogthing.
Eighth addendum: Redheaded Blackbelt is reporting on a bust in Salmon Creek.
Meanwhile, some roads are blocked off in the Whale Gulch area and to our east near Alderpoint and Harris.
Ninth addendum: The Times Standard has a story up.
Hank is reporting that most of the action seems to be down here.
I will be leaving the office shortly for paid work related business. I don’t know when I’ll be back on the computer, but feel free to post information as you get it.
Tenth addendum: Cynthia Elkins just played an interview with an FBI rep who answered maybe one or two of about 20 questions.
I’m leaving for a few hours. Please post freely, but responsibly.
Humboldt Herald has some details and links. Apparently about 200 DEA agents are coming, possibly as a result of recent national coverage of the problems in Arcata, and about 300 houses have been targeted. I’m just speculating, but I’m wondering if the federal government is seeing the passage of Measure B in Mendocino County as a shift in political sentiments on the issue. Maybe even a backlash.
Rumors that every room at the Eureka Red Lion has been booked between June 23-30 may also have legs. One industrious Craig’s List user consulted hotels.com in attempt to book rooms for those dates but the website said no rooms are available during that time.
Does this bring back memories?
Addendum: Humboldt News has more information.
If they are going to bust bona fide medical marijuana grows along with the commercial, this may finally bring the issue of the 10th Amendment into a court case, something the Federal Government has been avoiding for 12 years.
Second addendum: Let me just add having hit Heraldo’s links, that blaming this on Kevin Hoover is just ridiculous. Blame it on the greed which has taken advantage of the good will of California voters who had a much different reality in mind, and blame it on the greed which is impacting the availability of housing for working people, and the fire endangerment of residential neighborhoods.
If you don’t like it, vote for a different set of federal priorities in November, and push for some community solutions to the problem.