The Mercury News (CA) reports
The search for a missing San Jose man led to the raid of a large marijuana growing operation in Mendocino County and the detention of 10 people, five of them from San Jose.
The missing man — Victor “Gallo” Medina, 39 — was not found.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, while investigating marijuana farms on the Round Valley Indian Reservation, learned that Medina had reportedly gone missing while working on one such operation, a Wednesday press release by the office said.
In mid-April, Medina’s family reported him missing to the San Jose police.
On Tuesday morning, sheriff’s deputies, aided by San Jose police and members of other law enforcement agencies, searched the growing operation where Medina was thought to have been, on Covelo’s Refuse Road.
They found 55 large “hoop houses” (plastic-covered greenhouses), wading pools used for irrigation and “a great deal of household refuse and growing supply waste,” the press release said. A drainage ditch cut through the site emptied into Mill Creek, a spawning tributary for endangered salmon and steelhead trout.
Deputies destroyed 22,148 plants ranging from 1 foot to 4 feet in height.
Ten people were detained at the site, and two were arrested:
- Perrin Hoaglen, 69, of Covelo, on suspicion of conspiracy and being a felon in possession of ammunition.
- Adrian Silva Farias, 24, of Monroe, Wash., on suspicion of conspiracy, being armed during the commission of a felony, and cultivation of marijuana.
Both men were released on zero bail under the temporary protocol set by California because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The eight other people were identified and released. The district attorney’s office will review the possible cases against them. They are five San Jose men, ages 18 to 26; a 19-year-old Clearlake man; a 36-year-old Covelo woman; and a 33-year-old Madera woman.
Three search dogs were used to try to find Medina, without success. That case remains under investigation, the press release said.
A report is also being compiled of environmental violations, involving burned debris, burned vehicles and the use of chemicals.
The sheriff’s account of Tuesday’s search said the initial investigation arose from concerns by Round Valley tribal leaders and other community members about non-native people growing marijuana on tribal land — some with permission, and some without. The residents “voiced their fear about this activity as there has been a marked increase in gunfire and acts of intimidation,” the account said.
The other agencies involved in Tuesday’s operation were the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force and the California Fish and Wildlife Department Watershed Enforcement Team.