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The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California • Page 37

Location:
San Bernardino, California
Issue Date:
Page:
37
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

1 nn 7 -fit ll'1 Sunday, August 22, 1982 The Sun, San Bernardino, California Section to Del Norte Humboldt High drama growing in Northern California as marijuana farmers defy law enforcement Dtocksburg Orleans Alderpoint Honeydew Briceland- Shelter Cove Whitehorn Laytonville WUtits Tfi5 1 flll ttt I II 1 "-v ft Sonoma Wm San francisco 4 Stories by JIM McCLUNG McClatchy News Service Last spring, at the start of the 1982 marijuana growing season in Humboldt County, there was not one sheriff's deputy assigned to narcotics law enforcement. Now, as the cannabis crop develops, there is still no one assigned to that duty. It is one more bit of evidence to the fact that outlaw marijuana growers and hoodlums in the $1 billion industry are in control of vast rural areas in the North Coast counties of Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt. Through terror, intimidation and force of arms, The New Lawless are denying the public the right to use its own land, effectively sealing off thousands of acres of Northern California's most spectacular scenery from the law-abiding. "We're not afraid of the cops," a marijuana grower told McClatchy News Service one evening in the Blue Circle tavern in Garberville.

"Even if the cops see something when they come in here (the grower's turf between Garberville and Shelter Cove in Humboldt County) they don't report it. They're scared of us." There is reason to be scared in the North Coast counties. Machine guns chatter in the heavily timbered canyons, tourists unearth murder victims on Pacific beaches, gunf ights erupt and synthetic drug labs explode in fireballs. So lax has been the federal and state law enforcement effort against growers that in southern Humboldt County, west of Garberville, they have not been molested since 1979. That territory, from Garberville west, is unequivocably the worst of the coastal outlaw havens.

The source at the Blue Circle described a chilling new use for illegal Mexican immigrants. He said growers hire them to perform many of the daily chores, including guard duty, for two reasons: they work cheap, and at the end of the season they are "expendable." "Who cares if a Mexican is killed and buried?" said the grower. "Nobody misses them. Nobody reports them missing and probably very few know where they are." The grower knows that he and his industry are an economic boon to the depressed North Coast. "Everybody owes their living to marijuana," he said.

"Without pot, Garberville a ghost town." In Whitethorn, a community just above the Mendocino County line, McClatchy News Service found the toughest-looking marijuana growers encountered while seeking out The New Lawless. They were dirty, tattooed, bearded and often accompanied by vicious-looking pit bulls. Guns and knives were commonplace. Asked to talk about the violence surrounding the marijuana industry, one Whitethorn dweller said, "That's a touchy subject, man. No one wants to talk to you about that.

You better get on down the road." In Garberville, another grower said, "It's stupid for you to go out and try to talk to these hippies because they'll kill you if they decide that's what they should do." A veteran police officer said of the reporter's visit to Whitethorn: "It's just like the Indians. They believe you can't kill an insane man because he's protected by the gods. I think they put you in the same light." U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello of the Northern District said, "That's one of the side effects of fairly widespread avoidance of the law.

"You develop an atmosphere of lawlessness such as bringing a bunch of Mexicans up and using them on the harvest and then murdering them. That's really insane, but when they have so little contact with law enforcement they can talk that way." There is abundant irony in the fact that the U.S.Mexican program to eradicate marijuana south of the border with the herbicide paraquat in 1976-77 led ultimately to Northern California's dope and violence problems. Mexico was the major producer for U.S. markets until paraquat killed the weed and the market. As quickly as the Mexican weed expired in the sun, the hippies of the 1960s who by then were ensconced in communes and crude dwellings on the Northern Coast recognized the marketability of their already reputable "California homegrown." By 1979, the state Department of Justice recognized that Humboldt, Lake, Del Norte and Mendocino counties had replaced Mexico as the prime supplier to domestic users.

And lawmen realized also that hoodlums were replacing hippies as cultivators of the commercial product. As the California homegrown market expanded, so did crop size. As the price escalated, so did the level of violence that growers were willing to use to protect their crop. Today, say law enforcement sources, the emerging commercial marijuana industry has expanded into 43 of the 58 California counties and into 19 western and southern states. The industry is especially strong in Whitehorn, Honeydew, Alderpoint and Orleans in Humboldt County; from Willets north in Mendocino County, and in northwestern Sonoma County.

Humboldt County District Attorney Bernard C. DePaoli said, "It certainly has contaminated the northeastern part of the county, including the youngsters on the (Hoopa Indian) reservation, and it certainly has contaminated the southern part of the county Garberville, Bloxberg and Briceland." DePaoli estimates commercial cultivation of marijuana has increased the level of violence by 200 percent in the last two years. He said the problems of violence have not been faced by the Legislature and county board of supervisors. "I see Humboldt County becoming more of a battleground, more of a violent atmosphere," said the district attorney. ppPnnii poinfpd to a recent murder: "The rao could have been solved in, probably, 36 hours.

Instead, no one even reported the guy dead for two months because it happened right in the middle of harvest. "All the players in ths action were non-Humboldt County people, including the deceased, and it was all over marijuana. In fact, the guy was killed by his own bodyguard." Another example occurred last summer: "In three days we indicted something like 24 people for violent acts over who's going to control marijuana traffic on the (Hoopa Indian) reservation. "What we had was a bunch of doped-up Native Americans who were shooting at each other in downtown Hoopa, in the middle of the day with the tourists driving by." DePaoli predicted that outlaw violence is reaching such levels that, "I think you are going to find armed establishment reaction and resistance in the future and I'm not an alarmist." Election day in Humboldt County indicated that marijuana carries political as well as economic clout. DePaoli said his hard line stance on the issue cost him his Job in the primary.

Both DePaoli and Eureka Police Chief Ray Shipley, candidate for county sheriff, lost to candidates with a more liberal stance on the marijuana issue. "I think what happened in both the race for sheriff and district attorney is that the public made a statement about its desire to allow marijuana a relatively healthy chance at physical and financial survival in our county," said the prosecutor. "It seems as though in those areas where marijuana is more frequently grown, I received less than 10 percent of the vote as did Shipley, who took a strong stand against marijuana. People out in the woods say that's what did it." Humboldt County Sheriff Gene Cox said his department did not field a narcotics deputy because the board of supervisors stripped his budget of all narcotics enforcement funds and has repeatedly turned down sizable federal grants for marijuana eradication programs. Cox said that areas like southwestern Humboldt have escaped raids because there is no money available to launch a respectable anti marijuana effort.

A veteran narcotics officer told McClatchy News Service that there is only "selective enforcement" of narcotics laws in Humboldt. The officer pointed to an aerial surveillance flight last fall in which 80 marijuana gardens were spotted on a four-mile-long stretch of hillside. All but three of the 80 gardens were left to ripen and be harvested because the sheriff could not finance raids on them. No one has more of a potential for conflict with marijuana growers than cattle rancher. There is an uneasy standoff between the two.

"The hippies don't want a shooting war with me and vice versa," a rancher told McClatchy News Service. He added that identifying him as a source could lead to his ranch being burned, his cattle shot or his family assaulted. "None of the ranchers snitch on growers because it would lead to a war that the rancher would lose." He explained that ranchers have real estate investments, machinery, buildings and crops to protect while the outlaw growers usually have nothing but old vehicles and promising gardens. "Cows can't eat black grass," the rancher said, referring to a grower who during the 1981 season set more than 20 fires in the Alderpoint area. The fires were in retaliation for a police raid on a pot patch.

The grower believed someone in the forestry department had reported his marijuana crop. In the nearby Mad River country in the 1980 season, growers set range fires in retaliation for each raid on their gardens. The fire-setting subsided, however, when the growers discovered that more patches were being found and reported by firefighters sent in to tend the blazes. In Mendocino County, south of Humboldt County, an estimated 1,700 commercial marijuana growers practice their trade. Arrest data and information gathered from growers reflect the grower lifestyle: Of the 69 arrests on cultivation charges in Mendocino County between June 1 and Aug.

10, 1981, all but one suspect were drawing welfare payments or food stamps to live on while their valuable crops matured. One narcotics agent told McClatchy News Service that in three years of marijuana eradication work in Mendocino County, he had arrested only one grower who was not either on welfare, drawing food stamps or in the Medi-Cal program; In Mendocino County also, the concern about violence is increasing. Lt. Max Anglin of the Mendocino sheriff's office said, "Under normal circumstances I will not send a lone deputy into the northwest area of the county. There you are too far from help and the potential for violence against our deputies is definite." As to visitors in the same area, Anglin said, "As long as travelers stay within 50 feet of the roadway they will be safe.

The ones we worry about are the deer hunters and hikers they are candidates for booby traps and shootings." The officer said the number one dope-growing community is Laytonville. Willets is second. He pointed to the double murder of a Ukiah couple last October as one of the more brutal examples of increased violence linked to the narcotics trade. In that case, Larry Cape, 39, and Venita Cape, 33, were killed with multiple gunshots to their heads and dumped on Cow Mountain. No charges have ever been filed.

Mendocino County District Attorney Joe Allen, sponsor of a ballot measure to legalize cultivation of marijuana for personal use, blames commercial cultivation for substantial increases in homicides, kidnapping, armed robbery and attempted murder. Explaining his stance on cultivation for personal use versus commercial use, Allen said, "It is like the difference in a bear cub and a full-grown grizzly. The one is not very danpemm and the other is." Stwtt lllofrotton by ttv Hatch A look at 'California homegrown' Gonnoisseurs of fine marijuana in every major U.S. city will accent Christmas dinner this year with a joint of California homegrown, signaling a major marketing success for a highly illegal and in most cases inferior product. The smoker may be in Houston, Dallas, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and New York City.

His marijuana may be from Humboldt, Trinity, Butte, Mendocino, Shasta, Placer and Monterey counties in California, and Josephine, Jackson and Douglas counties in Oregon. The smoker and his weed will be together because the California wholesalers, middlemen and financiers trafficking in all lines of illegal narcotics have forged a public relations success that is to be envied. "It's a fad. Smokers in Cleveland can't get enough of California homegrown because it's the thing to do. Connoisseurs everywhere but California are smoking California homegrown," a wholesaler told McClatchy News Service.

"California smokers generally are more sophisticated and prefer Thai weed, Mexican red hair and a few lesser known exotics, all of which are better products than most of the California homegrown," the drug merchant told McClatchy News Service. "The marijuana scene is like the wine scene in that the same standards apply. Not everybody can manufacture Dom Perignon just because they may be able to grow grapes. There are a lot of people growing cannabis indica in the state but only a very few are producing stuff like premium 'Mad River one source explained. In the middle 1970s, the United States and Mexican governments launched a marijuana eradication effort that consisted of spraying paraquat, a herbicide, on the large Mexican plantations of marijuana that supplied the U.S.

The spraying project spawned a California marijuana cultivation industry that first surfaced in counties from Monterey north and today produces a significant portion of the illegal weed marketed in the U.S. Commercial crops of cannabis indica sinsemilla are grown in 43 of California's 58 counties and in 19 southern and western states. Federal studies suggest that the California crop alone produces $1 billion in tax-free revenue for those in the trade. McClatchy News Service learned that there are thousands of persons, young and old, educated and not, violent and non-violent, farming the illegal weed in Northern California and feeding their families from the profits. There are thousands more who add to their annual income from legal jobs by growing a few plants of marijuana.

And, there are those who operate plantation-style with multiple gardens scattered over many acres of land. A source in the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement told McClatchy News Service that "Operation Sinsemilla," an eradication effort using agencies, had proven effective. He said that the size of the marijuana gardens in the state had been reduced from several, thousand plants to a few hundred because the strike force uses aerial surveillance as its primary tool. However, people in the trade say that the reduction in the size of the marijuana gardens is a result of growers learning that they can make as much money from 20 to 40 pounds or premium "skunk weed" as they can from 200 pounds of marijuana of varying and lesser quality. Much of the homegrown is produced on small ranches in the rural mountainous regions of Northern California.

It is planted in March and April and requires about one full-time farmer for every 100 plants. It is harvested in the late fall and undergoes a curing process that may take several (Please see Homeerown. Pape E-5).

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About The San Bernardino County Sun Archive

Pages Available:
1,338,705
Years Available:
1894-1998