April sees 156% increase in illegal marijuana grows in Siskiyou County – Sheriff calls for State of Emergency

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif., — Responding to ongoing concerns of illegal marijuana grow operations and related crimes occurring within Siskiyou County, the Sheriff this week requested lawmakers declare a State of Emergency while asking for the public’s support in eradicating the problem he described as a “disaster”.

In a related video released to social media earlier this week, Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue invited any and all Federal or State representatives to “come and experience this disaster first-hand”, while sharing details related to the dangers of investigating the illicit grow sites. To date, none have come forward and accepted his invitation.


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In the social media release, Sheriff La Rue explained that each week the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office performs search warrant operations at non-permitted grow sites throughout the county in order to eradicate the seemingly never-ending supply of illegal cannabis.

Video and satellite surveillance, some of which was shared in the released video and can be viewed below, reveals there are roughly 5,000 unpermitted “hoop house” style structures and outdoor grows illegally cultivating on both Federal and private property within the County.

One set of images featured in the Sheriff’s video showed a staggering increase in illegal grow sites and how in 2021 the sites had grown by the thousands when compared to satellite images of the same area that were captured in 2017. (See comparison photos below.)

Satellite surveillance images show a dramatic increase of marijuana grow sites in the Mt. Shasta Vista area from 2017 to 2021. Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office photos

“This industry is operating without permits and refuses to comply with state and local laws,” La Rue explained, adding, “In the last few years, illegal cultivation has exploded in size, gaining an exponential presence on the black market and reaching billions of dollars annually.”

“As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in homicides, property crime, animal abuse, and other violent crime in our community,” the Sheriff continued.

Surveillance footage over the Mt. Shasta Vista area shows the incredible number of illegal marijuana grows operating outside the laws established to protect community as well as the industry from clandestine grow operations. Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office photo

As Sheriff, I call on the State of California to:
1. Declare a STATE OF EMERGENCY and acknowledge the rampant black-market industry endangering our communities.
2. Develop bipartisan laws that adequately penalize and deter environmentally reckless illegal cultivation, animal abuse, labor exploitation, and the draining of local resources.
3. Protect and support legitimate agriculture by ENFORCING laws against illegal cultivators.
4. Help us by FUNDING law enforcement to confront the problem.

In the video, La Rue cited a variety of concerns, including large quantities of trash, human waste, fertilizers, pesticides, rodenticides, herbicides, propellants, and other chemicals found carelessly discarded and stored at the locations, which he said, “Create the potential for a long-lasting environmental crisis.”

Also cited in his declaration was the abundance of valuable County resources, the main one being water, consumed by the thousands of illegal grow operations.

“Many residential wells surrounding these sites have gone dry due to the wasteful extraction of groundwater,” the Sheriff explained, adding, “These illegal cultivation sites also violate the regulations established by the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC).”

Requesting lawmakers to declare a State of Emergency in Siskiyou County, Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue said many residential wells surrounding illicit marijuana grow sites throughout the county have gone dry “due to the wasteful extraction of groundwater” by the site operators. Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office photos

Here is just one example of the mass quantities the Sheriff’s Department is dealing with in Siskiyou County:

On April 29, 2022, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office served seven search warrants in an unincorporated area of Siskiyou County. A total of 17,583 illegal cannabis plants were destroyed along with 5,610 lbs. of processed illegal cannabis as a result of the operations – estimated at approximately 8 million dollars on the black market at $1,400 per pound.

One of many issues cited in SCSO Sheriff Jermiah La Rue’s declaration of a State of Emergency related to illegal marijuana grow sites in Siskiyou County is the amount of potentially dangerous pesticides, poisons, and other waste carelessly discarded and stored at the grow locations. Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office photos

“Last year at this time, we destroyed more than 39,000 illegal cannabis plants and 30,000 pounds of processed illegal cannabis – worth $42 million,” La Rue explained. “In comparison, to date, we have destroyed more than 100,000 illegal cannabis plants – a 156% increase – and 37,000 pounds of processed illegal cannabis totaling $51 million.”


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In the related video release, Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue went on to say, “I am saddened that our local community is suffering, it is my job as Sheriff to uphold my oath to take care of the community.”

“I carry that burden and it is serious to me and I owe it to the community to do all that I can,” he continued. “I just need help from people above me. But we’re committed to doing our job, even if the legislature is not committed to doing their job.”

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 51, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and operates Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS). Both are stringer organizations, providing breaking news coverage and community interest stories for other mainstream media organizations throughout the two regions they serve.

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.