On May 21, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant in Tehama County for illegal commercial cannabis cultivation on a remote parcel approximately 30 miles west of Red Bluff.
Commercial cannabis cultivation is banned in Tehama County. The suspects had allegedly brandished firearms at nearby residents, which forced CDFW and local authorities to take immediate action.
Support was provided by CDFW Environmental Scientists, Tehama County Sheriffâ€™s Department, State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and Investigators from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
Approximately 28,733 illegal cannabis plants were eradicated, 165 lbs. of processed cannabis destroyed and three firearms seized. Onsite officers found evidence of at least 10 poached wildlife species including deer, pig, ducks and fish. CDFW is conducting further investigations before it is decided how to proceed with the additional charges.
â€œWildlife officers continue to work with our allied agency partners to combat and shut down illegal cannabis cultivation sites,â€ said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. â€œToo often illegal growers move into vacant private lands, take up residency and setup unlicensed large-scale operations, which can severely impact Californiaâ€™s native fish and wildlife.â€
Officers arrested four suspects for felony cannabis cultivation, conspiracy, possession of a firearm while committing a felony along with an additional 20 counts of various environmental crimes. Violations included unlawful stream diversions, use of restricted pesticides, sediment and petroleum product pollution, and depositing litter where it can enter waters of the state. The State Water Board and CDFA also documented numerous crimes.
CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or texting information to â€œTIP411â€ (847411).