An audacious attempt to ship a large volume of marijuana, hashish and hash oil to the East Coast through a UPS center in Santa Rosa led to two raids this week in Humboldt County that yielded nearly 800 pot plants, guns and $40,000 in cash.
The size of the pot farms in the Garberville area of southern Humboldt County were not exceptional but for their link to the bold effort to transport a large quantity of drugs through a commercial shipping company, Humboldt County Drug Task Force Commander Wayne Hanson said.
The package that aroused suspicion at the Frances Street freight shipping plant south of Coddingtown Mall contained approximately 150 pounds of marijuana in 113 individual, sealed packages; hashish bricks totaling about four pounds; and a mason jar containing about 80 grams of hash oil, Santa Rosa police said.
Humboldt County Marijuana Raids
Even smaller amounts of pot would likely produce enough odor to attract attention, Hanson said. More commonly, large quantities are transported out-of-state by vehicle, often rented trucks, Hanson said.
"It's pretty brazen to use UPS to ship that much dope," he said.
But authorities said UPS, FedEx, even the U.S. Postal Service often participate unwittingly in the global drug trade, moving smaller quantities of illegal substances to their destinations.
Usually, it's only a few pounds, Hanson said. Sometimes, cash comes through, as well.
"UPS and FedEx both give us calls periodically when they get a package that they think is suspicious. Sometimes the guys shipping them don't seal them very well and they can smell an odor coming from the package," said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Chad Heiser, who oversees narcotics investigations for the city. "Or sometimes a package comes open. And they always call us."
But it was unusual when a Florida-bound package first inspected by UPS personnel turned out to contain hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs, Heiser said.
He estimated the local value of the drugs at $250,000 but said they would be worth twice as much on the East Coast.