Thursday, Nov 18, 2010
On November 6th, a park neighbor advised rangers that he’d discovered a tarp and some black hose on his property, located immediately adjacent to the park in French Gulch. Two rangers conducted a preliminary investigation, discovering from a distance what appeared to be a tarp with marijuana hanging under it. Four days later, rangers and Shasta County deputies conducted a raid on the location, creeping up to within 40 feet of the two growers there without being seen or heard. When the growers stood up, the officers identified themselves. One of them – Manuel Segundo Mauleon – slipped and fell, while the other ran away. Mauleon was found to have been carrying a loaded .25 caliber pistol, which was discovered on the ground during the arrest. Officers chased the second grower, who was running with his right hand in his pocket, possibly holding a gun, but lost him in the thick brush. Despite assistance from a local California Highway Patrol helicopter, he was not found. Officers searched the camping area and cultivation site for evidence and then packaged up the large amount of marijuana as evidence, being assisted in this by the resident special agent. The site had about 1,100 plants, with the processing of buds for sale in various stages. Several very large tarps were filled with drying buds several inches deep, while other plants with buds still intact were found drying under tarps. The seized marijuana weighed 340 pounds and is worth approximately $1.36 million. Later that night, rangers nearly caught the second grower when he placed a tree branch in the middle of Highway 299, hoping to flag down a ride from a growing partner. Rangers tracked the grower with the assistance of a USFS officer and his K-9, but the dog lost the scent on the highway. This second grower – Jaime Morales Gutierrez – was arrested the following day as he walked along the highway towards Redding. Gutierrez had identification showing an address in Sacramento and another in Michoacan, Mexico. Both men are suspected of being part of a large Mexican drug trafficking organization that the agent, rangers and deputies have been investigating since early this year. Both Segundo and Gutierrez are being held in Shasta County jail on immigration charges. The NPS and county are working with the DEA to submit a package to the assistant US attorney for possible Federal prosecution. Rangers returned to the site on November 14th and collected additional evidence (49.17 pounds of marijuana) and mapped the entire site for case presentation. This is very late in the growing season for this activity.