Sheriff's department receives federal money
Tehama is only county in state to collect BLM funds
A trip to Washington D.C. last week proved very profitable for Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker.
"I received a commitment of $20,000 from the Bureau of Land Management for the county's marijuana eradication program," Parker said. "That will be added to the $45,000 we have already received from the DEA for next year."
The sheriff said Tehama County is the only county in the state that will be received BLM marijuana eradication funds.
The county Board of Supervisors will have to formally accept the funds, but Parker sees no problems there. The board approved the $45,000 from the federal; Drug Enforcement Agency on Nov. 3.
The funds will be used to support the county's expense of equipment and manpower used to locate, investigate, raid, and clear illegal outdoor marijuana gardens in the county.
"Despite an aggressive investigative and prosecution effort, the County of Tehama continues to be plagued by outdoor and indoor marijuana cultivation," Parker said.
The majority of the illegal gardens are grown on public lands and growers are boldly taking over lands owned by "absentee owners".
"In spite of approximately 104 arrests and prosecutions since 1999, the county continues to attract large grow operations conducted by Mexican national drug trafficking organizations," Parker said.
He said growers have become familiar with law enforcement's tactics, therefore the department's tactical operations and methods have to constantly change and evolve so raids and arrests at the garden sites can be made in the safest manner.
In 2008, the sheriff's marijuana eradication team, working with the U.S. Department of Forestry, BLM, DEA, and Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, busted 12 outdoor gardens, one indoor garden, eradicated 28,300 plants, made 10 arrests and seized 10 weapons and $5,000 in cash.
The numbers for this year's growing and harvesting season aren't final as the department anticipates making raids through the end of the November, Parker said. So far there have been 13 raids, 47,634 plants pulled, 24 arrests and 14 weapons and $15,000 in cash seized.
Parker said in 2010, his department anticipates to bust at least 20 outdoor marijuana gardens.