According to California’s Eureka Times-Standard, a two-week multi-agency operation that ended last week eradicated some 55,000 cannabis plants on and around the Yurok Indian reservation.
The Yurok Tribe carried out similar raids last year, eradicating 15,000 plants, and intends to go on doing so every summer until growers leave the area, Yurok vice-chair Susan Masten said.
“We’re not going to quit until there are zero plants growing on the reservation,” she told the Times-Standard.
Authorities also seized 1,000 pounds of processed cannabis, made seven arrests, served 30 search warrants, discovered one butane hash oil lab and allegedly found evidence indicating the possibility of Mexican cartel involvement in some of the grows. Along with tribal police, the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the National Guard and the California Department of Forestry participated in “Operation Yurok.”
According to a press release posted on the Yurok Tribe’s Facebook page, the aim of the operation was to return all water possible to the Klamath River and communities downstream from grow sites.
“One of the most egregious environmental damages we saw on the grows was water diversion,” tribal environmental director Louisa McCovey said. “This was a total disrespect for our land and resources.”
Water resources are especially critical in light of California’s severe drought, which is now in its fourth year. McCovey also cited unpermitted land grading and tree cutting, raw sewage leakage and huge piles of garbage at grow sites—household trash, batteries, irrigation hoses, appliances and fertilizers.
“They’re not following any laws and then they’re devastating the environment,” she said.
The Yurok and Hoopa tribes, outraged at ecological damage and violation of tribal sovereignty by outlaw growers, have in recent years coorperated with the Humbioldt County sheriff, the California National Guard and federal authorities in eradication campaigns.
But when the the Alturas Indian Rancheria and the Pit River Tribe in Modoc County launched their own state-legal and environmentally sound medical grow ops, they were raided by the DEA last month—which can also be seen as a violation of tribal sovereignty.