Siskiyou Co. declares state of emergency over illegal marijuana grows

Yreka, Calif. — Siskiyou County has declared a state of emergency over illegal marijuana grows. This week, the Board of Supervisors voted five to zero, enacting the declaration.

“It’s a public health and safety and environmental disaster in the making,” Sheriff Jon Lopey said. “My team has already served over 80 search warrants this year.”

Sheriff Lopey said illegal grows have been a problem for years, but it’s getting worse. A phone call in May brought the problem front and center.

“I received an offer from a citizen, that I felt was over the line, basically a bribe,” Sheriff Lopey said.

The person made an offer to the sheriff of $84,000. While working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Sheriff Lopey met the people behind the bribe more than five times.

“During these interchanges, they actually gave me money, you know cash, to protect illicit cannabis cultivation sites within the county,” Sheriff Lopey said. “This was done undercover of course, everything was recorded, I was working very closely with the FBI and the DEA.”

Eight illegal grow sites and thirteen people were connected to the case. The grows were destroyed, and all involved were arrested, but the concern remains.

“That, you know, was a troubling development, the investigation just highlights the multi-million dollar nature of the drug trafficking industry, especially when it relates to marijuana,” Sheriff Lopey said.

Sheriff Lopey said it’s not just law enforcement taking notice.

“Literally hundreds of citizens have complained about these, these problems in their neighborhoods,” Sheriff Lopey said.

With the state of emergency declaration, Sheriff Lopey said he’s hoping the county can secure state and federal aid, along with additional resources. Above all, he wants to make one thing clear.

“I want to assure the citizens out there that use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, in compliance with the law, those people are not the target,” Sheriff Lopey said. “We’re going after the illegal violators of the law.”

If you’re living next to an illegal grow or know of one, contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

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