Federal agents went into Northern California yesterday and seized at least 12,000 marijuana plants from two federally recognized Indian tribes.
According to an article in the Mercury News, the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento announced that the plants and over 100 pounds of processed cannabis were found while the agents were carrying out search warrants for the properties governed by the Alturas Indian Rancheria and Pit River tribes in Modoc County.
An application in support of the search signed by an agent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs claims that back in March, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Alturas Rancheria told Modoc County’s sheriff that they planned to start growing medical marijuana near a casino the tribe operates. Pot is legal for medical purposes in California.
Back in December, the Department of Justice announced that Indian tribes could grow and sell marijuana if they followed the same policies required of states that have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. Since then, some of the 566 recognized tribes have been considering getting into the cannabis business.
But in this case, it seems that the amount of marijuana that was being grown inside the Alturas Rancheria Event Center and in at least 40 greenhouses on Pit River tribe land nearby didn’t meet any of the federal conditions. They also didn’t meet any of California’s medical marijuana laws.
A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office said, “The investigation of the cultivation facilities searched today indicates that both are commercial marijuana cultivation projects operated with the intent to transport large quantities of marijuana off tribal lands for distribution at various locations yet to be identified by the tribes. These facts raise multiple federal enforcement concerns, including the diversion of marijuana to places where it is not authorized.”
No one has been arrested and no charges are pending, but the case is still under investigation. That may all change soon though, since the search warrant claims the whole growing project was being financed by Grand River Enterprises chief executive officer Jerry Montour. Montour is a native Mohawk and prominent cigarette manufacturer in Canada who has fought with federal and state authorities in the past over sales of his products on this side of the border.