A raid in Northern California turned up more than 2,000 marijuana plants in February, according to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.
Officers with the department’s Marijuana Investigation Team – a task force dedicated exclusively to busting people who grow, ship, sell, and burn a plant – served search warrants at two sites in unincorporated Shasta County.
They were joined by officers from the Shasta Interagency Narcotic Task Force; the Burney, Cal., Patrol Division; and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Watershed Enforcement Team.
Elaborate grow operation over two sites
At the first site, the department said, officers found 1,400 plants growing inside three elaborate buildings. They also seized about 5 pounds of processed cannabis, several guns, and a large generator authorities said was used to power a commercial marijuana farm.
The second site contained a sophisticated indoor grow operation with more than 660 plants. Officers discovered several code violations there, though no one was at the property and no additional arrests were made.
Officers also confiscated two boats, a motorcycle, and a utility box trailer, all allegedly used in the operation.
Authorities said both sites were linked to George Reuben Carey, a 32-year-old resident of Oak Run, Cal. Officers said he was the primary suspect in the case.
Baron Risling, a 35-year-old resident of Hoopa, Cal., was arrested at the first location, and authorities said he had a prior felony conviction that barred him from owning firearms or bullets. Risling was booked at the Shasta County Jail and charged with possessing a gun as a felon and several violations of county health and safety codes.
Authorities said they plan to hand Risling’s case to the county prosecutor’s office. They also said they would issue an arrest warrant for Carey.
The total number of plants found in the raid was 2,154.
Marijuana busts in northern California
Northern California is notorious among stoners, who have seen countless busts by local officials, state agencies, and federal law enforcement. Federal raids have become less common after President Barack Obama announced a new, more liberal marijuana policy in 2013.
But local and state police continue to put pressure on growers and dispensaries. The farm busted in February was allegedly illegal, so it wasn’t covered by state laws that protect medical marijuana businesses.
Still, the bust will not make a dent in California’s cannabis supply. The state produces more of the drug than any other, supplying 60 percent of the national market. Parts of Northern California are home to the largest illicit marijuana market in the country.
The state could legalize in the November election, assuming the issue makes the ballot. A group led by tech billionaire Sean Parker has already raised more than $2 million to fund the ballot campaign.