Yolo Supervisors and DA Fued over Legal Pot Grow Bust

by Placerville Newswire / Jan 10, 2017 / comments

The Los Angeles Times has some shocking details on a drug raid against a legal medical cannabis operation in Yolo County that occurred back in September.

County Supervisor Don Saylor says the two marijuana growers, Ted Hicks and Ryan Mears, had done everything right. “They looked for guidance, they complied, they set up irrigation systems, drainage, applied for Water Quality Control Board permits,” he said. He compares what happened next to terrorist activity by a county task force.

“I told my 2-year-old son to stay upstairs,” said Mears, 35. “When I opened the security door, there were 15 cops with assault rifles drawn, pointed, with their fingers on the trigger, in vests, ski masks. They grabbed me and pulled me out front, put me in handcuffs. There were 20 to 30 officers. My son walked downstairs and my wife had to grab him. They had guns pulled on them. It was real painful.”

“Easily, it was the worst day of my life,” said Hicks, 43. “Every gun you can imagine was pointed at me. I was like, ‘Why is this happening?’ To add icing to the cake, it was my son’s fourth birthday.”

The Winters farm where they cultivated was searched. Their crop, more than 1,000 plants, was destroyed. Nearby, the home of the man they leased the farm from, Ravi Tumber, was raided as well. Tumber, 48, who had his own small licensed medical cannabis grow at the farm, was standing in a vineyard below his hilltop home, harvesting Syrah grapes. The sight of all the cop cars coming down his road put him in mind of immigration busts. “I thought, ‘My guys are legal. What is happening?’”

What was happening was the nation’s Drug War and an ongoing discrepancy in marijuana laws, according to the Times. Hicks and Mears were charged with illegally cultivating marijuana, a misdemeanor, and conspiracy for planning “to commit sales of marijuana,” which is a felony. 

Yolo County Agriculture Commissioner John Young expressed frustration with the incident, which has also drawn ire from residents and marijuana advocates.

“As you are trying to develop policy, you are going out to all these folks who are cultivating and you are trying to bring them into the regulatory framework. When something like this occurs, it is counterproductive to compliance.”

Not so fast, says Brandon Olivera, the commander of the TRIDENT task force that conducted the raid. He points to the fact that the Yolo prosecutors obviously thought there were grounds to charge the two.

“I guess TRIDENT isn’t such a terrorist group after all,” he said. “We’ve taken a bath in the media and other law enforcement, and thank God the Yolo County D.A. did the right thing.” He also disputed the harrowing descriptions of the raid, calling it “the most peaceful search warrant I have ever been involved with in 20 years of law enforcement.”

Image Credit: Flickr User paille-fr, https://flic.kr/p/pueitr via (CC BY-SA 2.0)