Federal Raids Include Arcata-Area Sites – July 18, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Officers inspect evidence at 1171 Old Arcata Road. Photos by KLH | Eye

Eye Staff Report

ARCATA – Cannabis-related raids in progress today in various Humboldt County locations include two sites in Arcata. One is at 1171 Old Arcata Road, the other on Grotzman Lane.

The raids are under the auspices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is assisting with the enforcement action.

ICE HSI issued the following statement:

“Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in California and South Dakota, in cooperation with local police, are engaged in a law enforcement operation in Humbolt County, Calif. As the matter is considered an active, on-going investigation no further information is available for release. Future inquiries should be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota.”

HSCO Sgt. Wayne Hanson said the raids are cannabis related. He said his officers had detained subjects at the Old Arcata Road residence, which is owned by Brett McFarland of the same address. In a June 15 post on McFarland’s Facebook page, he states that he is headed for Blue Lake from South Dakota after Father’s Day.

This afternoon, Hanson said that HCSO was assisting ICE with the raids. “It’s their case,” he said.

Hanson said that deputies had secured the Old Arcata Road residence, had established probable cause, detained three subjects there and were headed back with a signed search warrant. Called on his cell phone mid-afternoon – apparently  during the period he was detained but not yet arrested – McFarland told a reporter, “I don’t want to talk to you.”

A large U-Haul truck which was parked across the street on Anderson Lane reportedly smelled of cannabis. It was removed at about the time HCSO returned with the search warrant.

Locations in Salmon Creek and Petrolia have also been swarmed by police and federal agents.

Hanson said that HCSO had been involved in four raids today and two yesterday, including one on Sunny Brae’s Grotzman Lane.

The operation was somewhat reminiscent of Operation Southern Sweep, a coordinated raid in 2008 that involved mostly Southern Humboldt locations as well as one Arcata address.

Thursday: HCSO Sgt. Wayne Hanson declined to provide the address of the Grotzman Lane residence visited Tuesday. He said it could place the residents at risk for home invasion.

Hanson said the Sheriff’s Office is not assisting the federal agents with any action today, but that he believes that they are still in the county.

Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said APD provided one officer to assist during the raids to ensure adequate personnel were on hand.

“When you have multiple search warrant locations like this, typically there’s a connection to a bigger case,” he said. “It’s not several individual cases, but one big investigation covering several states.”

He referred all further inquiries to federal authorities.

Officers search a truck on the Old Arcata Road property.