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Alturas Rancheria leadership dispute helped spur marijuana bust

Federal and local authorities raided the marijuana farm on the XL Rancheria in California on July 8, 2015. Photo by Bruce Brown / Facebook

A leadership dispute within the Alturas Rancheria of California helped spur a federal raid of the tribe's marijuana operation.

Depending on who you ask, the tribe has anywhere from three to seven members. Of those, only two can trace direct descent from the Pit River Indians whose rancheria was originally set aside by the federal government in 1927.

Those two members are siblings Phillip Del Rosa and Wendy Del Rosa. According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Phillip started the marijuana farm over Wendy's objections.

In a letter to federal authorities, "Wendy Del Rosa affirmed that the marijuana manufacturing operation on tribal lands was opposed by the tribe and illegal under state and federal law," special agent Charles Turner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs stated.

Wendy further told U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner to "take all appropriate law enforcement action to close this illegal drug operation and bring those responsible to justice," the affidavit stated.

Wagner followed up on part of that request by raiding the marijuana operation on the rancheria on Wednesday morning.

But authorities didn't arrest anyone associated with the farm. And Wagner said no charges are pending against anyone involved so Wendy won't be seeing her brother going to jail any time soon.

Federal agents also raided a marijuana facility on the XL Rancheria, a reservation that is home to the Pit River Tribe. That operation was described as much larger than the one on the Alturas Rancheria.

Altogether, authorities seized more than 12,000 marijuana plants and more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana from the two reservations.

Get the Story:
Sibling dispute sparks feds to raid marijuana grows on tribal land (KRCR 7/9)
Feds seize 12,000 marijuana plants from Indian land in Modoc County (The Sacramento Bee 7/9)
Federal agents raid marijuana farm on Pit River tribal land (The Redding Record-Searchlight 7/9)
Monster Pot Raid on Tribal Territory in Modoc County; Feds Allege Connection With Canadian Tobacco Giant (The Lost Coast Outpost 7/8)
Marijuana Grow Operation Seized In Modoc County, CA (KOLO 7/8)
Feds seize marijuana from Indian tribal lands in California (AP 7/8)

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

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