Search For Missing Person Leads To Raid Of Large-Scale Growing Operation

Officers with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) recently conducted a raid on a large unlicensed cannabis growing operation, coinciding with the search for a missing San Jose man.

In mid-April, family members of 39-year-old Victor “Gallo” Medina reported the man as missing to the San Jose Police.

Also in April, MCSO began an investigation of a large-scale cannabis growing operation in the 23000 block of Refuse Road in Covelo.

Acts of intimidation related to large cannabis growing operations in the area, including an increase in gunfire, had led community members and Tribal Elders to voice their concerns.

According to a press release, MCSO met with the Round Valley Indian Reservation Tribal Council to address the growing concerns about the rapid increase in non-native persons establishing cannabis cultivation operations on Tribal property.

Not all of the growers have obtained permission to operate there.

MCSO Deputies became aware of the missing persons investigation being conducted by the San Jose Detectives Division, learning that Medina had reportedly been at the Refuse Road site and was involved with the growing operation in the area before he disappeared.

Detectives and Patrol Divisions from MCSO served a search warrant at the Refuse Road site on Tuesday, May 5, with assistance from 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.

“There were 3 search dogs deployed, in an effort to locate the missing person and or (sic) any evidence as to why he might be missing,” states the MCSO press release. “The missing person was not located and that case is currently under investigation.”

Law enforcement found 55 large hoop house-style greenhouses, multiple swimming pools for watering, and a sizable amount of household refuse and growing supply waste strewn about the site.

Authorities also found a small drainage running through the site and directly into Mill Creek, which is a spawning tributary for endangered salmon and steelhead trout in the Eel River watershed.

The release states that there is a pending report on the site’s numerous environmental violations, which include burned household debris, burned vehicles, burned tires, and chemical use in cannabis cultivation.

While authorities were unable to locate Medina, ten persons were detained during the service of the search warrant, and two were arrested and booked into the county jail.

According to the release, officers arrested and booked 24-year-old Adrian Silva Farias on charges of conspiracy, being armed during the commission of a felony, and cultivation of marijuana.

Officers also arrested and booked 69-year-old Perrin Hoaglen on charges of conspiracy and being a felon in possession of ammunition.

Farias and Hoaglen were both released without bail under the current emergency bail schedule put in place during the COVID-19 event.

The other 8 individuals were identified and released, with their cases forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for a review of the various charges at the investigation’s completion.