Both federal and state law enforcement officials raided Native American land occupied by two tribes in Modoc County on Wednesday, seizing at least 12,000 cannabis plants and more than 100 pounds of fully-processed marijuana.
A warrant issued on Tuesday authorized federal agents to search “two large-scale marijuana cultivation facilities located on federally recognized tribal lands at the Alturas Indian Rancheria and the XL Ranch in Modoc County,” reports theSacramento Bee.
Both facilities produced marijuana well in excess of the local cultivation limits enacted by Modoc County. The sheer magnitude of the operation projected an annual electricity bill reaching up to $8 million.
“The volume of marijuana that the XL facility alone was capable of producing, estimated at approximately 40,000-60,000 plants, far exceeds any prior known commercial marijuana grow operation anywhere within the 34-county Eastern District,” said Benjamin Wagner, the U.S. attorney in the Sacramento-based Eastern District of California, in an interview with the Bee. “According to tribal representatives, all of the marijuana cultivated at both facilities was intended to be distributed off tribal lands at various unidentified locations.
According to sheriff’s informants, the two manufacturing sites were financed by Jerry Montour, CEO of a large Canadian cigarette manufacturer with a history of convicted offenses that include smuggling marijuana from Mexico to Canada and selling untaxed cigarettes to New York retailers.
The investigation has yielded no criminal charges as of yet because Wagner says the “grows in question have received substantial attention in Modoc County, as has the U.S. Department of Justice’s guidance relating to marijuana cultivation on tribal lands.”
As it stands, American Indian territories are considered sovereign nations and are generally outside the reach of federal, state, and local authorities.