Near-Collision Leads to Drug Bust
At approximately 6:30pm, an SCSO Lieutenant was driving along County Road A-12 towards the 97 intersection when he noticed that a white box truck failed to stop at a posted stop sign at the A-12/97 intersection, a violation of 22450 (a) of the California Vehicle Code. The white box truck then proceeded to drive directly into the path of a semi truck traveling southbound on 97, forcing the semi truck driver into the oncoming lane. At this time, the Lieutenant initiated a traffic stop on the box truck, and promptly noticed the overwhelming odor of cannabis emanating from the vehicle.
The male driver, Luis Fernando Gutierres Rojas, 43, of Hollywood, CA, apologized for the near collision and admitted to the Lieutenant that he had cannabis in the back of his vehicle. Rojas then opened the back of the box truck for the Lieutenant, revealing over 4,400 pounds of cannabis that he had just purchased from illegal cultivation sites in the Shasta Vista area. None of the cannabis had the proper labeling as required by the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), which allows dispensaries to verify that the product is legally and safely produced, and permitted for commercial sale. Through further conversation it was revealed that this cannabis was headed to a licensed Los Angeles area dispensary, for which Rojas worked. Also discovered in the vehicle was a backpack with approximately $16,000 in cash, and a notebook documenting previous cannabis purchases.
Shortly thereafter, additional SCSO deputies arrived on the scene to assist. Rojas was cited for violating California Health & Safety Code 11359(b), which prohibits the sale of cannabis without a license, and
California Health & Safety Code 11360(a), which prohibits the transport of illegal cannabis.
This discovery is emblematic of a trend we are seeing in Siskiyou County, where licensed dispensaries are buying illegally grown marijuana from the Mount Shasta Vista and Butte Valley areas. Marijuana grown in these locations is often treated with unregulated, and highly toxic pesticides that are banned in California. When marijuana is grown illegally, like we predominately see in the Siskiyou County, cultivators may not adhere to the same health and safety regulations that legal growers are subject to, and as a result their products can be highly toxic.
Recently, SCSO submitted various samples of illegal cannabis to a lab for pesticide analysis that was seized from cultivation sites and vehicles headed to licensed dispensaries. The results indicated the illegal cannabis grown in Siskiyou County contained high levels of pesticides that exceeded DCC standards.
These samples included illegal cannabis found at cultivation sites and headed to licensed dispensaries. We urge cannabis users, to consider verifying to the best extent possible the origins of the products they are buying to limit exposure to banned pesticides.
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