Pot Grow Operations Among Topics Discussed at Anti-Drug Coalition Meeting

Humboldt County 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg listened to members of the Klamath-Trinity Anti-drug Coalition (KTAC) in Hoopa on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012./Photo by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

Humboldt County Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg and Hoopa Tribal Police Chief Robert Kane met with the Klamath-Trinity Anti-drug Coalition (KTAC) in Hoopa on Wednesday, Oct. 3, to talk about a variety of topics including the impact of marijuana cultivation in the community.

“In Willow Creek, they’re cutting into the hills. There’re no homes; it’s all greenhouses,” Kane said. “We’re testing the soil, and there’s rat poison and other things in it.”

Nitrates and other chemicals from pot growing operations are seeping into the local water supply which is being monitored by tribal scientists.

KTAC member Norma McAdams said that locals are also in danger from armed growers camped in the hills.

“You don’t know where they’re growing, and you can’t go to the traditional gathering areas because it’s too scary,” McAdams said.

“I have two sons who work for Forestry,” McAdams said, “They’ve both been shot at while on duty.”

Kane said that Hoopa Tribal Police is the only law enforcement agency that operates 24 hours a day in northeast Humboldt County.

“Sometimes there are only two people on duty,” Kane said. “If there’s an arrest, one officer stays to fill out the arrest report and the other drives the prisoner to Eureka jail.”

Sundberg said, “With the resources they have, the Tribal Police are doing the best they can. Everybody’s dealing with the same stuff. The Sheriff’s office is down by 23 officers.”

Budget cuts are forcing severe cutbacks to local law enforcement and other governmental services, but marijuana growing operations are expanding.

“The problem with marijuana is that it’s quasi-legal in Humboldt County,” Sundberg said. “We can’t get to them all. It’s too big.”

Marijuana and other drugs are integrated into the local community.

“We don’t like to talk about it, but it’s affecting our own families,” McAdams said. “I know families where that’s how they pay for school clothes for their kids.”
Kane said, “It’s not just here in Hoopa. It’s everyplace.”

To help combat illicit drug activity and theft, KTAC worked to set up a local Neighborhood Watch in Hoopa, with mixed results.

McAdams said, “People say that they’re afraid to put anything in their windows and they’re afraid of retaliation from their families; except for Norton Field. They’ve had two block parties already.”

Norton Field was the site of a large indoor/outdoor marijuana growing operation that was shut down by the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police on Sept. 15, 2011.

Tribal Police recently acquired the equipment seized from that operation, which the department hopes to sell.

Kane said, “We have $100,000 in grow lights alone.”

The operators of the marijuana operation in Norton Field had the proper prescriptions for the plants, making their operation legal under county law. But, tribal law forbids the growing of any marijuana on the  entire reservation, even on fee lands.

Tribal law is also being used in an attempt to exclude Arthur Jones from the reservation because of his history of methamphetamine sales.

Jones pleaded guilty to the transportation and sale of methamphetamines in February 2012. He forfeited $100,000 to Humboldt County and was sentenced to probation and community service.

If the exclusion attempt succeeds, Jones would be the first Hoopa tribal member banished from the reservation. The case will be heard by the Tribal Court on Oct. 18.

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