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Feds mum on Mendocino County pot investigation

Federal authorities are maintaining their silence about a criminal investigation that led to a raid at the Potter Valley family property where a high-ranking member of Mendocino County law enforcement resides.

The investigation into possible marijuana cultivation has ensnared sheriff's Capt. Randy Johnson, who now is the subject of an internal Sheriff's Office probe to determine if he knew of any illegal activities on the family property. The probe is being conducted by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

Federal sources say 500 marijuana plants were found during the raid.

The case is the latest in a string of marijuana investigations linked to Mendocino County officials or members of their families that in some cases have led to resignations and arrests.

The Oct. 11 federal raid on the property owned by the sheriff's captain and his father, Johnny Johnson, follows a federal crackdown on marijuana cultivation in what's known as the "Emerald Triangle" -- Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties -- despite California voter-approved medical marijuana laws.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said he launched the internal investigation after he was "stonewalled" by federal authorities.

"I want to know the facts," Allman said. "The federal government has not told me one thing, and I need to know if there's any validity to it."

Allman said he would expect federal agents to contact him if a member of his department was suspected of being involved in an illegal activity, but there's been no such contact.

"There's no indication Randy was involved," Allman said, and Johnson is still on the job.

Federal officials will not divulge who or what triggered their investigation, nor have they made any arrests. The search warrant records remain sealed.

The Johnson family has owned the 16-acre compound on Highway 20 for more than three decades. The property is served by a single, private drive but consists of two parcels. The larger, 11-acre parcel is owned jointly by the sheriff's captain and his father and includes their homes, among other structures. The smaller parcel is owned by the elder Johnson and includes numerous rental residences.

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