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Dead Birds and Banned Pesticide Found At Unlicensed Marijuana Grow

On March 11, Elizabeth Garcia, 33, of Fairfield was sentenced to three misdemeanor violations relating to the use of a banned pesticide at a Lower Lake black market marijuana grow.

Garcia was placed on three years probation, ordered to pay fines and fees of $22,700 and complete 240 hours of community service. In addition, she has prohibitions related to cannabis possession and cultivation.

The violations stem from a Sept. 2018 investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for black market sales and environmental crimes. The illegal grow contained 850 plants and was not permitted by the county or licensed by the state.

“The conviction of this case was a result of a team effort with CDFW scientists and enforcement, SWRCB, U.C. Davis Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation,” said Susan J. Krones, Lake County District Attorney. “The abundance of natural resources in our county should be respected and treated with care. This conviction demonstrates that noncompliance with state environmental laws will not be tolerated.”

While serving a search warrant, wildlife officers observed the presence of a suspected illegal substance and a dead bird, identified as a hermit thrush, found within the cultivation site and another bird carcass nearby. Plant samples and the deceased bird were tested and both returned positive for carbofuran.

“Black market marijuana operations can be very harmful to the environment,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “Grows of this nature are a public safety threat and keep the legal cannabis market from reaching its full potential.”

Carbofuran has been banned in the United States since 2009. A single aspirin-sized tablet of carbofuran is toxic enough to kill 20,000 small birds and just a teaspoon can kill a 300-lb. black bear.

CDFW encourages cannabis operators to obtain state licenses and local authorization for commercial cultivation. Learn more at wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis.

CDFW would like to remind the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, illegal water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP” followed by a space and the desired message, to 847411 (tip411).