Ten people were detained at a large illegal marijuana farm on Tuesday morning on the Round Valley Indian Reservation in Mendocino County, where San Jose detectives searched for clues to a missing man who allegedly worked in the cannabis industry before his disappearance in April.
Authorities served a search warrant on the rural parcel of land, located near Covelo on Rifle Range Road next to Mill Creek, around 8:20 a.m., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney said.
There, deputies found more than 22,100 cannabis plants inside 55 hoops or long domed greenhouses made of PVC pipes and plastic sheeting. Burnt cars, tires and other trash littered the cultivation site, which began less than two months ago, Barney said.
One person fled up a brushy hillside as deputies arrived and had not been found by Tuesday afternoon, Barney said.
Authorities arrested two women and eight men. The sheriff’s office withheld their names because they were still being questioned and had not been formally arrested, according to Barney. Most were not tribesmen living on the property.
The missing man, Victor Medina, 29, has not been located on the property, Barney said.
Tuesday’s research came in response to an influx of reports from residents of the Round Valley Indian Reservation of multiple illegal marijuana crops across the reservation, which were erected by people outside of Round Valley Indian tribes over the course of months, Mendocino County Sheriff Matthew Kendall said.
The presence of marijuana cultivation, which has led to violence and even death on the reservation in recent years, has made residents and tribal elders wary of hunting, fishing and other travel on the reservation. the region, he added.
“I’m not going to put up with it,” Kendall said in a video posted online Tuesday. “We cannot leave people intimidated and detained in their homes for fear that they cannot use the land that belongs to them.
Mendocino County authorities who searched the property on Tuesday were assisted by deputies from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and detectives from the San Jose Police Department who were investigating Medina’s disappearance, Barney said. Medina told his wife he was at the grow site when they last spoke on the phone.
The San Jose Police Department provided few details about their investigation, though it said Medina was reported missing on April 24. E-mail.
A California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist also inspected the area next to Mill Creek, a local spawning ground for rainbow trout, Barney said. Once the biologist’s report is completed, the findings will be forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office to determine if environmental violation charges are warranted, he said.