MENDOCINO COUNTY — There’s been some mysterious activity in the skies over Mendocino County lately. Folks who live there want to know: Who are the armed men dropping out of helicopters to chop down their marijuana grows?
They dress in combat camouflage, some of them hide their faces. This summer, a group of men in Mendocino County loaded into helicopters and flew missions to eradicate marijuana. They’re not police officers. They work for a security company called Lear Asset Management.
According to their promotional poster, the group works with law enforcement .That’s why Susan Schindler suspected the posse, when her medical marijuana garden was hit last month.
“They took hand saws and just cut the trunks,” Schindler said.
Schindler said the armed men in camouflage dropped into her garden from an unmarked helicopter and refused to identify themselves. “There was no paperwork, no copies of any warrants they didn’t leave any inventory of what they took,” she said.
She told KPIX 5 that she is following all the county regulations: 25 plants per parcel, the legal limit in Mendocino County. And she said the strain of cannabis she grows has no street value: It really is medicinal.
“The irony is that this whole garden that was destroyed was not a garden that would get you high,” Schindler said.
Lear Asset Management’s president Paul Trouette turned down KPIX 5’s request for an interview, but said Lear had nothing to do with the raid on Susan’s garden.
So we asked Mendocino County’s sheriff, Tom Allman. “The sheriff’s department doesn’t hire any private security to go out and do our job,” he said.
Allman said his deputies have conducted some recent raids, including several in Susan’s area on the day she was hit. But he says his guys wear badges and clearly identify themselves.
“So are they seeing things?” We asked him. “Or is it just the fact that they are mistaken?”
“I think there are some people who may become paranoid this time of year,” he said.
But Schindler has another theory: Whoever is behind it, she believes she’s an easy target. “I think they tried to find places where they saw nobody, I think they tried to find places where they would not be confronted with guns.”
So it’s still unclear who exactly is raiding the pot farms. The security company, Lear, insists they are only staying on the private property that hires them. And that’s perfectly legal.