Today, in an incident disturbingly similar to one three weeks ago, another grower was killed in Mendocino. The man, Hispanic and in his 20’s, apparently “displayed” a weapon and was fatally shot. And, within the hour, at a nearby garden, law enforcement reported that 4 armed men shot at other officers. The officers returned fire but all the suspects escaped.
A blog in the area, Emerald Triangle News, believes the gardens were on private property. According to that source a warrant was being served in the early morning hours by a team of 60 officers when the unknown suspect “appeared and displayed a rifle….” At that time three deputies shot at the man who was pronounced dead on the scene.
No officers were hurt but five officers were put on administrative leave following this shooting which is normal procedure.
The previous incident referred to happened in the early morning hours of July 27th. Apparently while it was still dark, Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies and officers from U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, entered a marijuana garden on forest service land close to the Glen County line in the Covelo area. A Hispanic man in his 20’s, Angel Hernandez Farias, and another suspect entered the garden about quarter to seven. According to law enforcement, Farias, age 24, pointed a gun at them. An unidentified officer fired back, wounding the suspect who attempted to run but was brought down by a K-9 unit. Farias died in the garden and the other suspect fled. 11,635 plants were taken from the gardens. Farias was described as “easy going, soft spoken and well mannered.”
As is noted in the Mendocino County Independent, a normal raid is carried out with a large official presence often including helicopters etc. These later raids have been quiet, dawn forays which may have led the suspects to believe that they were dealing with rip-offs not officers. However, this last one did have a solid wall of officers.
The Mendocino community is split with some calling the raids “confrontational.” The Emerald Triangle News blogger represents many of the growers’ points of view when he asks, “Why is the Mendocino Sheriff sending out clandestine teams of armed men in the middle of the night, clad in full camouflage gear, armed with fully automatic assault rifles to eradicate simple marijuana gardens? Who made the decision to perform these clandestine “Blackwater CIA” style raids on our local growers? How many 20 year old kids will be shot when caught by surprise by unannounced men wearing camouflage and military fatigues. Of course there is the question as to whether the man actually leveled or pointed the gun at deputies, but we all know these officers will stick together and get their story straight, ensuring no charges will be brought against the shooter or the leader of the black ops operation in which a civilian were killed.”
However, many in the Mendocino community are increasingly worried about cartels taking over parkland. Some residents claim they have been shot at while traveling in the back areas. One has offered to form citizen patrols saying, “”There seems to be a feeling of almost resignation here that, hey, in the summertime don’t go into the national forest because you might get shot…That’s unacceptable. It’s public land and it belongs to everyone. It’s time to tell them (drug cartels), no mas.’”
Will this latest violence change their minds?