Law enforcement officers in the northern California town of Sebastopol, in Sonoma County, responded to a call from local firefighters who reported coming across a large marijuana growing operation while attempting to extinguish a fire raging in the same building.
Guns, ammo, indoor and outdoor marijuana plants growing; all of these are pretty standard discoveries in a bust like this, usually along with some cash and other valuables. In this case, a record amount of each was seized in what local cops are saying may be the largest financial grab in the county’s history.
It’s one thing to keep a little “mattress money” – some cash that you keep out of the bank, somewhere around the house, for when you really need it quick – but Sonoma County deputies on the scene of the massive cannabis cultivation op in Sebastopol found well over a million bucks in cash on the same smoldering crime scene that housed the illegal weed growing.
In fact, the cops found $1.42-million in bills ranging from $10s to $100s at the scene, but they also found an oddly coincidental 1,421 pieces of gold and silver.
Typically, any agencies involved in the seizing of finances in drug-related incidents like this are allowed to split any cash bounty up evenly with the prosecuting attorney and the state – a conflict of interests if there ever was one.
In just the past five years alone, Sonoma County law enforcement has seized over $8-million in cold, hard cash in cases like this.
An unidentified person was temporarily detained on scene when firefighters and law enforcement responded to the fire, but so far, nobody has been charged.
One local medical marijuana collective took the bait and filed a claim for the seized cash; a decision that got their claim and their names handed straight over to the feds for further investigation.
Due to the fact that literally hundreds of pounds of harvested and sellable weed were found alongside the massive piles of cash, precious metals, firearms and ammo, and even some ninja-style nunchucks, the DEA took over the entire case, but has yet to release a statement about it.
The previous “high” dollar total for a drug-related bust in Sonoma County happened way back in 1999 when officers stumbled upon a backpack containing $536,000.
Meanwhile, just four hours north of Sebastopol on Highway 101, firefighters in Humboldt, California not only rescued armloads of cannabis plants from being burnt down in a local structure fire there earlier this week, but they even “re-hydrated” the plants once they got them outside. Now that’s a public service.