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Newly appointed San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said illegal marijuana cultivation is “probably our biggest quality-of-life problem in our county right now, particularly in our rural areas.”

“This is not the end of this,” 1st District Supervisor Paul Cook said. “This is just the start of dealing with a huge problem.”

County officials have shut down 272 illegal cannabis farms so far in 2021, the Board of Supervisors was told

The county’s Marijuana Enforcement Teams have shut down 272 illegal cannabis farms in 2021 so far, according to the report. Another 1,085 potential farms also have been identified. Authorities have made 251 arrests, including 39 felony arrests, and have seized 21,029 pounds of cannabis.

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“This is a large problem, when you talk about the size of our deserts, extending from the Morongo Valley, going out to Newberry Springs and, of course, out to the Phelan area and the L.A. (County) border,” Dicus told the board. “This seems to be something that Sacramento is turning a blind eye to.”

Be smith weed grower

Despite that, Flatten said some of the puzzle pieces began falling into place. He went public with his story and later identified one of his alleged robbers as Huffaker after seeing a photo of the former officer.

But Flatten said what happened to him has come at a cost, and says he believes the conspiracy stretches beyond California. After going to authorities, Flatten says someone broke into his Texas home and scrawled a threat on one of his walls, saying “Light is death. Police cockroach.”

The growers say there’s no documentation showing that thousands of pounds of marijuana taken from their farms was ever, in fact, destroyed, and they now believe much of it was likely stolen.

“I came outside and there were camouflaged guys coming over the gate, the fences, pointing [automatic weapons],” Knight said.

‘Hollering in the Wind

“Between at least August 2016 and December 2017, Tatum and others seized money, marijuana, and property from individuals that they stopped along Highway 101, without arresting these individuals, without providing a citation or asset forfeiture notice to the individuals, without filing any incident/investigation report,” the FBI states in its criminal complaint against the officers.

The lawsuit alleges “hundreds of acts of extortion, theft, and robbery of marijuana, guns and cash” by law enforcement officials from at least four separate agencies, including the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Rohnert Park Police Department.

Within five minutes, Flatten said the men took three pounds of medical marijuana, photographed his driver’s license, and drove off.

‘It Just Didn’t Add Up’

According to the growers, Smith was the only officer from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office present at the 2017 raids on the property owned by Will Knight and the property Gurr and Borges own together. Fish and Wildlife Lt. Steve White, now retired, was also at both raids and is accused of conspiring with Smith and others to steal marijuana.

Tatum’s attorney didn’t respond to NBC Bay Area’s request for comment. Heather Noel Phillips, an attorney representing Huffaker, provided a statement saying in part, “[Huffaker] did not do this and we are confident that a neutral jury will see that.”