Officials said the raids did not involve legitimate medical marijuana clinics or growing operations, which are allowed under state law but not recognized by federal agencies.
"Medicinal marijuana is supposed to be medicine and not a large-scale business operation," said narcotics bureau spokeswoman Sara Simpson. "When large quantities of cash begin to change hands, crime and violence soon follow, and that will not be tolerated by law enforcement."
The Eureka Reporter puts name to face.
Lt. George Cavinta from the Humboldt County Sheriff's office tells the Journal that the FBI action will not end today; there'll be at least a few more days of action to follow.
There are apparently 29 warrants to serve, Cavinta said -- 27 federal and two state. They've only done a few of them so far: the one house in Sunny Brae and several all around Southern Humboldt. Cavinta himself was calling from Garberville.
Cavinta says the Sheriff's Office was aware that the raids were coming. "We were notified of the investigation over a month and a half ago, just to work on logistics," he said. The office has six people on the ground assisting right now -- again, logistics, he said.
Cavinta declined to state whether the operation was targeting a single grower or organization or several. He did reiterate, though, that they were after commercial growers, not medical marijuana users. Also, he repeated that the operation was initiated by the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and that the feds were brought in later.
The bulk of the action seems to be down there.
Kym K has a photo of agents in Salmon Creek.
Eric Kirk is monitoring KMUD. Busts in Redway, including one witnessed by Eric himself. Also there's apparently a good deal of action out near Whale Gulch.
An indoor grow is being broken up in Sunny Brae right now.
To reiterate, the FBI insists that this operation is targeting a single individual or group of individuals, and is not an all-purpose sweep of grow houses.
UPDATE, 9:31 a.m. : Bob Doran is at 1658 Virginia Way, Arcata, where three federal agents in FBI windbreakers have pulled grow lights and sundry devices out of a home there. They're not talking. Doran reports that they're paying particular attention to a car in the driveway bearing Oregon plates. They seem to be hauling numerous paper shopping bags out of the car.
... a FBI spokesperson on the ground in Fortuna just spoke with John Matthews on KSLG.
UPDATE, 8:36 a.m.: Here's the audio of John Matthews' interview with Joseph Schadler of the FBI, courtesy KSLG:
"I'm not in a position to make a comment right now because the operation is underway," says Lt. George Cavinta of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. "The FBI has the command post, and it's all the FBI's warrants."
Cavinta said that someone -- either his office or the FBI -- will likely make a statement by noon.
UPDATE, 7:49 a.m.: A spin around Arcata about half an hour ago revealed nothing unusual. Nothing going on at the downtown medical marijuana clinics, nothing visible in Sunny Brae -- at least the parts of Sunny Brae I toured -- and nothing in a couple of other neighborhoods near downtown.
UPDATE, 8:26 a.m.: See here.
These screengrabs don't quite do it justice, but they're all ready to roll down there at the River Lodge.
UPDATE, 6:05 a.m. : They've moved out.
UPDATE, 8:26 a.m. : See here .
Something is definitely happening.
There's a whole bunch of tight-lipped people at the Fortuna River Lodge right now. They've got satellite trucks. (Check the web cam here .) John Matthews of KHUM went down to try to get people to talk this afternoon; he was unsuccessful. But they did check his ID.
Supervisor Johanna Rodoni tells the Journal that Sheriff Gary Philp told her that the people at the River Lodge were federal agents, and it was definitely not a convention. (Last week, personnel from the Convention & Visitors Bureau said they knew nothing about any convention coming to town this week.)
Rodoni says Philp told her that all would likely be revealed soon.
There's three police vehicles from Siskiyou County in the parking lot of the Red Lion, along with some large trucks.
The front desk at the River Lodge gives out an FBI number to reporters seeking more information.
Is it drug busts? Immigration?
UPDATE: The DEA has denied, again and in no uncertain terms, that any sort of mass drug bust is planned for Humboldt, according to a story in tomorrow's Arcata Eye . But the phone number given out at the River Lodge was for the FBI, not the DEA.
A lot of known unknowns right now. It might not be weed-related at all. Or maybe it is. Or maybe it's completely innocuous, whatever it is -- a conference or training or what have you. Though that seems less likely by the moment.
UPDATE: Why FBI? The DEA is drugs and ICE is immigration. The DEA has strongly denied any big drug busts are coming down. Does the FBI do marijuana raids? Doesn't seem plausible, unless they were trying to make some other kind of case -- corruption, racketeering.
The FBI and ICE do sometimes work together , though, if there's criminal cases to be made. And as the Times-Standard reported earlier this month , the recent layoffs at the bulb farm were the beginning of an investigation, not the end of one. The point will be expanded upon in this week's North Coast Journal cover story.
Go ahead and file this update under "wild speculation," or "something to think about."
UPDATE: Turns out the FBI does do weed -- see the link to the Clear Lake paper that Jason provides below.
UPDATE, 8:26 a.m. : See here .
Missed Saturday's festivities in Blue Lake? Here's a clip from Dell'Arte's presentation of the "Prize of Hope" to Tim Robbins and the Actors' Gang.
Warning: The sound is pretty bad for the first few minutes, but once you get to Robbins everything sorts itself out.
UPDATE: And when I say "clip," I mean an hour of video.
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