On Tuesday, May 5 the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Detectives and Patrol Divisions, along with assisting agencies – the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, the City of San Jose Police Detective Unit and an Environmental Scientist from the California Fish and Wildlife Department Watershed Enforcement Team – served a search warrant on a large cannabis grow in the 23000 block of Refuse Road in Covelo.
According to a press release issued by MCSO on May 6, “The Mendocino County Sheriff and staff have met numerous times with the Round Valley Indian Reservation Tribal Council about a growing concern on the reservation in northeastern Mendocino County.” The specific concern was about the recent and rapid increase in non-native persons entering the reservation and establishing large marijuana growing operations without permission. While some of the growers reportedly do have the Tribal Council’s permission to grow on their land, community members and Tribal Elders have voiced their fear about illegal grows “as there has been a marked increase in gunfire and acts of intimidation associated with the large marijuana gardens.”
Due to these increasing concerns and the development of a missing persons case in the same area, last month MCSO initiated an investigation into one “particularly large growing operations” in the 23000 block of Refuse Road in Covelo. The missing person, 39-year-old Victor “Gallo” Medina, of San Jose, has been under investigated by the San Jose Police Department since mid-April. “The information obtained in that investigation indicated Victor had been at this particular grow before he went missing and had been involved in the marijuana growing operation in that area,” said the press release.
While serving the search warrant on May 5, law enforcement discovered 55 large greenhouses (hoop houses) covered in plastic, numerous swimming pools set up to water the cannabis plants, and a lot of household refuse and trash. While on site, Deputies eradicated 22,148 plants ranging in size from one to four feet in height. Additionally, “There was a small drainage running through the site and directly into Mill Creek, a spawning tributary for endangered salmon and steel head trout in the Eel River watershed. An environmental report is pending but there were numerous violations noted. These violations involved burned household debris, burned vehicles and vehicle tires, as well as chemicals used in the marijuana cultivation,” according to the press release.
As a result of the search warrant, 10 people were detained while the investigation was conducted and two people were formally arrested and booked into Mendocino County Jail. Perrin Hoaglen, 69, of Covelo, was arrested and booked on charges of conspiracy and being a felon in possession of ammunition. Under the new emergency bail schedule, set by the State of California during the COVID-19 event, he was released on zero bail. Adrian Silva Farias, 24, of Monroe, Washington, was arrested for conspiracy, being armed during the commission of a felony, and cultivation of marijuana. He was also released on zero bail under the new emergency bail schedule. Eight other people were identified and released: Amanda Garica, 36, of Covelo; Juan Flores, 19, of Clearlake; Nayeli Salas, 33, of Madera; Primitivo Farias, 18, of San Jose; Victorio Doval, 26, of San Jose; Juan Cuevas Rubio, 21, of San Jose; Armondo Ramirez Reyes, 21, of San Jose; and Luis Picazo, 23, of San Jose. All of the cases against those detained and released will be forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for review of various charges at the completion of the investigation.
In an effort to locate the missing person, Victor “Gallo” Medina, and/or any related evidence, three search dogs were deployed, however the missing person was not located and the case is still under investigation.