Mendocino County authorities say the arrests of 15 out-of-towners during raids on a marijuana growing operation outside Ukiah — including several suspects from out of state and two from Israel — illustrate the need to change the county’s reputation as a pot-growing mecca for those in pursuit of big profits.
Suspects apprehended during raids conducted Thursday by local, state and federal drug agents at two properties on Low Gap Road were recruited by the lure of big returns to work in the area for someone else, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Rusty Noe said.
None had any link to the property, whose ownership is still under investigation, Noe said.
It was also unclear if the person for whom they worked had a legitimate jurisdiction over the land, he said.
“At this point, nobody up there had any idea, first of all, who owned the property,” Noe said. “They had a guy that told them they could go up there and grow dope and (who) put them on the property.”
What is clear, Noe said, is that folks are told they can make big money growing pot in the area, which has a long-standing reputation for large-scale marijuana cultivation, even if they’re there working for someone else.
And sheriff’s officials hope to change that by getting to the recruiters and shutting them down, he said.
“What we’re trying to do is get rid of that image that this is the place to come grow marijuana, and that message needs to get out,” Noe said.
Thursday’s raids on Low Gap Road were conducted by agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the state Campaign Against Marijuana Planting and the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team.
Seizures included 1,440 plants ranging in height from 6 inches to 6 feet, authorities said.
Another 25,700 plants were seized in separate raids on pot fields east of Philo in Anderson Valley, in an area known as Indian Creek, they said.
Those arrested included residents of San Francisco, Oakland, San Bruno, Tahoe City, Los Angeles, Denver, Indianapolis, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Israel.
15 Out-of-Towners Arrested in Mendocino County Pot-Growing Raids