Home > marijuana > 2008 Humboldt pot raids in LA Times

2008 Humboldt pot raids in LA Times

When hundreds of federal agents swarmed Humboldt County in June 2008 looking for pot, local residents were desperate for information.  KHUM aired a blow-by-blow all morning and afternoon as residents called in observations of police caravans and raids happening north and south.  June 25, 2008 still holds the record for most web traffic on the Humboldt Herald.

The raids netted relatively few plants — especially for an operation of its size — which was widely scoffed at by locals who joked that feds came to Humboldt County and barely found any weed.

But they found enough to send a few people to prison and confiscate property.  The LA Times has the story: No serene ending for ‘Buddhaville’.  This part stands out:

It was a strange deal. People could buy in and make small monthly payments. But they wouldn’t get title to their land until they all paid off their properties…

A couple of years later, the Barnums, a local timber family, offered a thousand adjacent acres on similar terms…

No one in the Mendes or Barnum families was charged. But Buddhaville buyers lost all they had paid.

The Barnums still have lots of depleted timberland that would love to sell you. But beware of the herbicides.

[h/t Redheaded Blackbelt]

  1. Bolithio
    September 12, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Ya, that part stands out alright.

  2. Plain Jane
    September 12, 2011 at 6:48 am

    So who ended up with the money the people paid and who owns the land today?

  3. Ben
    September 12, 2011 at 7:07 am

    So when does the common practice of selling land for a down payment and carrying a note become some criminal act? When you sell land you have no control over how it is used. The final Heraldo line is silly at best. Most rural land sales are this kind of transaction.

  4. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

    They didn’t carry the note. That means you get title at the upon the sale and then it is revoked if payment is not paid. This situation was more like rent to own.

  5. Plain Jane
    September 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

    So Barnum and Mendes got the payments from all these people for years, some of whom weren’t pot growers, and then got their land back? It’s sort of like rent to own, but only if Rent To Own was selling drug labs by the month and got them back when the buyers got busted. Anyone selling land in this manner knows the only way most buyers can make the payments is by illegal activities. Barnum knew what was going on at Buddhaville and he wanted some too. Or did the feds seize the land and / or confiscate the money paid to Mendes and Barnum?

  6. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 9:58 am

    The Barnums do have lot of depleted timberland they intend to see and that’s a big part of why they worked with Lee Ulansey to set up HumCPR and recruited the back to the landers to their cause (and hired paid mouthpiece Estelle Fennel) in order to get a General Plan that would allow them maximum profits when they sell that land. No doubt they will continue to look for other avenues to profit off the land in the meantime.

  7. Ben
    September 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Barnum property is not “depleted” what ever that means. Depleted means that there is nothing there, rather than growing trees which is what the property is doing, if not raising cattle, etc. All these HumCPR claims are without basis and I guess that any “Anonymous” person can make any claim they want because they are nameless and therefore not credible. I find it interesting how anonymous people can make false claims and others think that they are true because they read it here!
    As far as making a profit from land, what’s the problem? Should people not be able to make a profit? Silly notion.

  8. True Cynic
    September 12, 2011 at 10:21 am

    According to Bill Barnum, their land has an “age class gap.” Forester-speak for depleted–they clearcut it to hell and now are waiting for the trees to grow back–but also selling it off.

    Yes, isn’t it interesting that the land reverts back to Barnum and Mendes after years of collecting payments…what a racket.

    In Northern Mendocino, it was the Harwoods. Back in the 80s, people knew not to grow on their land if it was almost paid off, because you were sure to get CAMPed on–and then the land reverts back to Harwood to start the cycle all over again.

  9. Not an Expert
    September 12, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Isn’t it interesting that Ben Shepard, HumCPR board member, thinks that the Barnum/Mendes land deals are perfectly legit? I suppose Josh Hedlund and Ken Bareilles are just average business people too? That’s why one is in federal prison and the other had his license to practice law revoked for felonies related to land deals. Same deal–you can “buy” the land but don’t get the title to it.

  10. skippy
    September 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

    A couple of years later, the Barnums, a local timber family, offered a thousand adjacent acres on similar terms… No one in the Mendes or Barnum families was charged. But Buddhaville buyers lost all they had paid.

    And that’s the point of this column and PJ’s post: where did the money go? At the time of the infamous Buddhaville Bust, the Barnum and Mendes family were off the radar of most. Bill Barnum, family attorney and representative, has posted on this site before– regarding other matters. Will he he again offer his insights into this situation?

    Some comments from the 2008 archives– placing Buddhaville into context, and broken into two posts for brevity:

    “June 27, 2008: SoHum resident Charlie Custer gave KMUD news his take…

    “Custer said the raids centered on heavily cut-over timberland on the Humboldt-Mendocino border known as “Buddhaville.” The land is formerly owned by Barnum Timber and zoned for timber production. It’s now owned by 2 Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs), Lost Paradise, LLC and another still forming in Mendocino County. It’s the “same sort of corporate subdivisions as Vilica, LLC,” Custer said.

    ‘Residents of the land own shares in the corporation. The shares seem to be the basis of conspiracy allegations by the Feds. Custer said the land was illegally subdivided. State and federal pressure has forced counties to bring “shaded parcels” into compliance with zoning regulations. Many greenhouses and trailers were built without any county input, he said.

    What we see in Buddhaville is a great experiment in extending corporate impunity to shareholders, and the experiment has failed,” said Custer. “When the federal blitzkrieg passes, county blizzards of forms and inspectors will fall on the great and the small, shareholders, homesteaders and caretakers alike.

  11. Plain Jane
    September 12, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Does anyone have the totals of how many people put $32,000 down and 1,600 a month and for how many years? The LAT quoted someone (Buddha?) as saying over a million was paid. Sounds like a great racket to fill in the economic gaps while the trees grow. Reminds me of stories I heard about people getting good deals on pot in Mexico only to have their dealer turn them in for a reward and return of the pot to sell again.

  12. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I’ve always wondered where B. Barnum got his smugness and support for prohibition. Maybe “Hi-Fi” can offer some spin.

  13. skippy
    September 12, 2011 at 11:03 am

    We’d like to know those figues too, PJ. Perhaps readers will know more?

    Here’s some reader comments of the Buddhaville Bust, back in the Memory Lane archives of July of 2008. Unfortunately, the fiscal details were lacking:

    “SO it wasn’t about pot? It was about code enforcement?”

    “SEEMS to me the timber owners who cleaned out their stock then sold at such high prices caused the whole situation with their greed. They cut ‘em down, then sold out to pot farmers.”

    “THE ONE called Buddha is not very Buddha like; he’s not “kind” and totally out of touch… Reportedly he’s a major jerk and commercial grower/greed monger. Looks like some good people were sold a bill of goods with their LLC shares and tricked into a kind of “indentured servitude. I smell the blood of Josh Hedlund.”

    “BUDDHAVILLE was full of growers who were not “kind” people. The Buddhaville residents scared the locals away from their favorite swimming holes. Buddhaville built roads, greenhouses and homes without permits.”

    “MY UNDERSTANDING is that the land wasn’t sold at all, but rather shares in a corporation which owns the land were sold in lieu of an actual deeded transfer of ownership. Sounds like the same scam Josh Hedlund ran with Vilica and Schmook. Those shares can be devalued by those who control the LLC.”

    “A VERY suspicious set of circumstances. You have to admit these properties appear to be structured into LLCs exactly the same way Vilica and Schmook were. Also the Feds have said that the investigation started in 2006 when Hedlund was initially busted; it is well known that Joshee-poo is cooperating with the Feds (he ratted out his partner Kite on their 300+ light diesel grow/environmental disaster) and he would do just about anything to get his sentence reduced. He’s involved in the Lost Paradise LLC bust. Just connect the dots and judge for yourself.”

    “THERE”VE BEEN other situations like this, and when clients come in for advice, we routinely advise them not to “buy” in. Something happens to the title and you have no recourse. You have shares to an empty corporate shell. Any land deal which doesn’t involve an escrow, with the execution and recording of a deed, and title insurance, is probably a very bad deal. Your free legal advice for the week. In other words, this type of “deal” originally brought to Humboldt by Josh Hedlund, is a fraudulent scam by design.”

    “HOW MUCH cash did Ed Mendes, the seller, receive from Buddha?”

    “THOSE WHO “bought in” to the Lost River/Lost Paradise, LLC. property: Did you research what kind of scene you were buying into? I personally know people who initially jumped at the opportunity to get a piece of this prime real estate and then decided against doing business with those people. These decisions were based on the reputation and history of those people. I personally would not buy into a legally questionable land scheme that involved marijuana cultivation (even under 215 protections”) with people who had already been busted by the feds in the relatively recent past. This is the kind of element we are talking about here: people strengthening their “outlaw” identities, profit and power. Welcome to Buddhaville!

    “I HAVE clients who were burned badly by him (Robert Juan)– outside of the scope of these busts. I’m not going into details, but these people have their stories too.”

  14. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Wasn’t it Barnum’s improperly logged land that caused the Staffod mud-slide destroying others homes and property?

    He probably needed the pot money real bad!

  15. True Cynic
    September 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

    A recurring theme seems to be that when we choose to live outside the law, there’s no one to protect us from criminals. When are people going to say enough is enough?

  16. stating the obvious
    September 12, 2011 at 11:22 am

    “Buddha” as niceguy grower equals
    George Bush as great president.

  17. me
    September 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Anonymous says:
    September 12, 2011 at 11:08 am
    Wasn’t it Barnum’s improperly logged land that caused the Staffod mud-slide destroying others homes and property?

    He probably needed the pot money real bad!

    No,
    That was Pacific Lumber. A 15 second Google search would have told you this. Nice attempt.

  18. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Unfortunately a 15 minute google search doesn’t show details of timber management at Stafford. Barnum property was heavily cut in the slide area. Repeatedly. I think it may have been sold to PL who continued to cut.

  19. Not A Native
    September 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    From the article:
    After the raid, Juan couldn’t find much work — or even many people who’d say hello to him. He sold some belongings and worked briefly in a grocery store. Someone burned down his house in Whitethorn.

    So his supporters and friends abandoned him. Seems like SoHummers had no difficult judging Robert, and did so viciously. But only after he was taken down by the Feds.

    To me that really reveals the character of folks who excuse their illegal actions because they’re ma ‘n pop or honest ‘little’ people. Instead, it looks like a particularly meanspirited criminal dominated community where a ‘strongman’ holds sway by intimidation, and violence and revenge immediately results when he’s weakened by law enforcement.

  20. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    The threat to our way of life will come from Barnum’s actions through HumCPR to get the General Plan the way they want to see it (and once they elect Rex Bohn to the BoS, they’ll have their three votes) and the green light to covert timberland, or just divide it into McEstates with TPZ benefit and a new home. Either way, build they will.
    The big joke will be on the back-to-the-landers who’ve been foolishly supporting HumCPR, when their new yuppie neighbors from the city start calling the county to report on non code compliant buildings and other activities that are not what know from their former suburban neighborhoods.
    I don’t mind the Barnums making profits, but I do mind them changing the fundamental rural communities of Humboldt County, just so they can make more profit.

  21. Ed
    September 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    The single most effective way to save the tpz areas is the legalization of pot. That will create a mass selling of rural properties and drive down the perceived value. Next comes an exodus of outlaws and a renewed appreciation for the value of tpz for timber. Then, the water returns to our streams and so do the fish. Hopefully, legalization happens next year, making the rural land use debate moot due to economic realities.

  22. Not A Native
    September 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Well Ed, for every complicated problem there’s simple solution and its wrong. Pot legalization would reduce the land scams, but people don’t simply ‘go away’ like wildlife are assumed to do on a rural property thats being developed.

    Pot legalization may change the economics of being a criminal in HumCo. But it won’t eliminate the criminals anymore than eliminating food handouts and shelters eliminates homeless people. The criminals also have nowhere to go, and if they went ‘somewhere else’ they wouldn’t find opportunities that match their expectations and egos. Maybe they’d consider becoming Somali pirates, LOL!

    Fact is, they will seek out here another clandestine illegal trade where being remote offers an advantage. It will take some creativity and some time. For starters, blackmarket untaxed pot is a no-brainer, despite having lower profit than now. Meth and other drugs are obvious choices because existing buyers will be customers.

  23. High Finance
    September 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    They’ll switch to meth quickly.

  24. Bolithio
    September 12, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    For some reason my morning post lost most of what I intended on saying.

    “I don’t mind the Barnums making profits, but I do mind them changing the fundamental rural communities of Humboldt County, just so they can make more profit.”

    Its judge and jury around here as usual. A landowner selling land isnt changing the community ‘around here’. Its the buyer. The implication that Barnum or Mendes are some how responsible for the pot trade is ridiculous, and even more, the idea that they are selling to growers to make money while their trees grow (because of some elaborate scheme to bust them before the land is paid off) is utter nonsense.

  25. September 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Or Opium.

  26. Plain Jane
    September 12, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Bolithio, do you really believe they didn’t know how it would be paid for? Do you know if they got the land back after the buyers were busted? If so, do you think they should have considering they knowingly profited from the pot growing?

  27. Bolithio
    September 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    No. If they still owned it, probably. Yes.

    I question how much you “profit” by selling land to some one who puts 10-20% down, pays monthly for a year or so then bails out – with no accountability, leaving behind whatever mess which certainly detracts from the value of the land. Id say its risky business to say the least. While some landowners may have thought it was a good opportunity to sell land to cash-buyers who promised to pay it down quickly – many of these deals turn sour when they get busted or just split (after they have made a huge ‘profit’ from the land, not the og seller). I can think of many ways this scenario is a looser, not some profitable scheme.

    I think many of these larger landowners are much more weary of such deals than they would have been 5 or so years ago.

  28. Plain Jane
    September 12, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    $32,000 down and $1,600 a month x how many people? The LA Times article said it was around a million dollars. Shouldn’t it be a crime to facilitate and profit from criminal activity?

  29. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    teh threat to your way of life? dope growing lowlife way of life.

    I feel sooooo soooo bad some of yours lost money and went to jail> Ha ha

  30. Bolithio
    September 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    PJ, actually, the story said this:

    “Most made a $32,000 down payment over two years, then $1,600 a month, Juan said.”

    “No one in the Mendes or Barnum families was charged. But Buddhaville buyers lost all they had paid — by Juan’s estimate, a total of close to $1 million — and whatever improvements they had made to their land.”

    Both statements were made by Juan, not the LA Times, or anyone even remotely credible. The “whatever improvements” bit is funny. Thats why its not defined, because ‘improvements’ consist of shacks, trash, and miles of plastic pipes all over the woods.

    BTW, since when are we implicating people for ‘profiting’ from the pot trade? Every business? What about the realtor? The hardware stores? Willingly profiting from selling things for the pot trade? gimmie a break.

  31. Anonymous
    September 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Slow news day. Let’s re”hash” something from three years ago. Boo-fuckin-hoo for the pillaging pot bandits.

  32. Plain Jane
    September 13, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Who was the realtor, Bolithio? Comparing hardware store sales for products with multiple possible uses, most of them legal, to the faux sale of land for growing pot is absurd. Mendes and Barnum should have been charged with conspiracy and fraud for their illegal land deals with pot growers. How is what they did any different than what Bareilles did?

  33. Ben
    September 13, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Jane, have you no background in real estate? Your claims have no basis in fact!
    1. selling and carrying back a note is a very common practice and is not in any way illegal. It is not a “faux” sale and the seller only has a security interest in the land, not ownership. The buyer has title and full control of the land.
    2. Conspiracy and Fraud? How? Conspiracy is planning to do something illegal, selling land is not illegal. Fraud? How?
    3. Bareilles created and sold illegal parcels, the parcels in note were not illegal parcels.
    It is obvious that you have a thing about landowners like Barnum and you just make false claims with no basis in fact. Shame on you.

  34. Bolithio
    September 13, 2011 at 7:47 am

    PJ, what is the ‘legal’ use for miles of drip line and pallets of dirt, paid in cash, then loaded up into a 24 year olds monster size diesel truck? Do YOU really think that they don’t know what that stuff is being used for?

    ‘that stuff could be used for a 215 grow, which is legal’!

    OK, true. So thought the Banrums. Case dismissed.

  35. Ben
    September 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Every business in Humboldt County depends on this market, if not directly then indirectly. All business have seen the change from credit cards and checks to cash in their sales and $100 bills are common.

  36. Plain Jane
    September 13, 2011 at 8:20 am

    They could be truck farmers growing vegetables, Bolithio. Both Barnum and Mendes knew the land they sold was being bought to grow pot. How on earth could they think people growing with 215 cards could make payments of 1600 a month plus pay off the down payment of 32,000 in 2 years? How is what Mendes and Barnum did any different from what Bareilles, fraudulently sell undivided property to a bunch of different people? So far selling soil and PVC pipe isn’t illegal. The feds should have seized the land and assets to regain the million or so dollars paid and prosecuted Barnum and Mendes for conspiracy.

  37. Anonymous
    September 13, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Maybe Ben, but I also think this industry has cost our community in ways that are difficult to measure. Everyone I know who rents out a mother in law unit or other houses or apts has suffered losses. These people have no scruples. My friend just realized the lovely young girl who had rented for ten years had been covering up the damage to her home, cleverly, so my friend’s light inspections didn’t uncover it. There was a lot of friendship and trust there. Damages in the 10s of thousands and the owner will pay, not the long gone “friend”. Not to mention the cost to the public of all the services, cops, fire calls, community worry over safety, neighborhood values decreased, and worst of all, the pain people have gone through in a multitude of ways. In my family, friends and neighbors, it has cost us- financially, emotionally, not to mention the general public costs that new taxes might bring. I am not a fan.

  38. Ben
    September 13, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Jane, you claim that the sellers knew that the land was going to be used for growing. Every land sale could be a sale for growing, but clearly the buyer did not inform the sellers of the intened use. As far as terms, they are very low with only $32,000 down and monthly payments of $1600.
    Barelles created illegal parcels and then sold them, that is not what Barnum did, no matter how many times you claim differently. The parcel was legal and the sale was legal, so again you are using your obvious dislike for some folks to cloud your visioin. I can just immagine your take if this were Arkley!

  39. Plain Jane
    September 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Except when Barnum sold his land to the group, they had already been growing on the land they bought from Mendes, Ben. You must be the most naive person in Humboldt County.

  40. Anonymous
    September 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Ben is on the CPR board Jane.

  41. Anonymous
    September 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

    What was the correct procedure for them, Jane? How to fix that? Not sell to them? Get it raided? I would want it gone too.

  42. skippy
    September 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    “Operation Southern Sweep” was conducted in June of 2008. The operation brought 450 federal, state and local law enforcement personnel together to bust a commercial marijuana grow operation connected to a single group in Humboldt County between June 24 and 28. The California Department of Justice spent at least $347,000 in its role in the weeklong drug raid.

    According to documents recorded June 26, 2008, in the Humboldt County Recorder’s office, U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello’s office filed a complaint for forfeiture in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on three properties comprising multiple parcels in southern Humboldt and northern Mendocino counties. The parcels all belong to the Lost Paradise Land Corp.

    The properties were not seized but notices of complaint for forfeiture were served to the properties and the owners of record. The complaint identified these 3 properties:

    1 : Four Mendocino parcels totaling 960 acres, which the complaint calls the “Juan CC property,” owned by Robert Juan. Over 25 areas that had been cleared and leveled for the purpose to facilitate the cultivation of marijuana, over 24 pot gardens in open air and greenhouses, and 3,929 plants in various stages of development were found.

    2: 10 Mendocino parcels and two Humboldt parcels totaling about 945 acres, owned by Lost Paradise Land Corp contained 36 cleared and leveled areas, 46 pot gardens and 7, 372 plants.

    3: Two Mendocino parcels of unspecified acreage owned by Graeson Prescott and Paul Sayers with one cleared and leveled area, and 164 plants in a greenhouse.

    Residents reported the Lost Paradise Land Corp. was called Buddhaville. County and state records reveal that the president of Lost Paradise Land Corp. was Robert Juan, 36; and Graeson Prescott, 37, of Eureka, the treasurer.

    The corporation bought the properties in 2004 from Eddie and Diana Mendes of Fortuna, who bought them from Hawthorne Timber Co. in 2003. Diana Mendes said she and her husband were not targeted in the investigation and that they have no involvement with Lost Paradise other than that they are still receiving payment for the properties on two notes.

    Records show in 2004 Lost Paradise put down roughly $703,000 for the properties and took out two loans in the amount of $1.4 million and $300,000 — both from the Mendes — based on the document transfer tax.

    (continued…)

  43. skippy
    September 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Making a convoluted situation worse, the court case of United States of America v. Real Property and Improvements, February 19, 2010, (No. C 08-3080 JSW) noted:

    The government alleges the following regarding the issue of related cases:

    In 2004, Robert Juan formed the Lost Paradise Land Corporation and designated himself as CEO. On March 30, 2004, Lost Paradise Land Corporation bought 945 acres of land in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties from Diane and Eddie Mendes. According to the plan Juan set up, each member of the Lost Paradise Land Corporation owned “shares” of the Land Corporation…

    “In 2005 the Colburn Creek Land Corporation was formed, with Robert Juan’s involvement. Each member of the Colburn Creek Land Corporation owned “shares” of the Land Corporation…

    “In 2005 Robert Juan also purchased approximately 960 acres of land in Mendocino County from Barnum Timber Company. However, Robert Juan never transferred title of the 960 acres purchased from Barnum Timber to Colburn Creek Land Corporation.

    “On June 24 and 25, 2008, law enforcement officers executed 30 search warrants at the homes of the shareholders of Colburn Creek Land Corporation, Lost Paradise Land Corporation and on the rural property described above, and recovered from various locations marijuana with an estimated value of between 25 and 60 million dollars, weapons and cash.

    Notice of Forfeiture Actions went to many parties– including Barnum Timber, the family enterprise owning 43,000 acres of timberland primarily in Humboldt County. Barnum Timber listed itself as a claimant against Real Property and Improvements being “a beneficiary to the deed of trust” as filed in the United States Northern California District Court in July of 2008 (No. CV 08-3093 WHA).

    The big mystery still remains. What happened to the money Buddhaville investors lost when this Ponzi land scheme collapsed? Who did the land revert back to after the busts and forfeitures had taken place?

    (Sources: the North Coast Journal, “Feds Move to Seize Properties, Operation Southern Sweep Raids End” by Heidi Walters, July 3, 2008; John C. Osborn, Eureka Reporter, August 12, 2008; Chris Durant, Times-Standard, 1/12/2010; United States of America v. Real Property and Improvements, 2010; United States Northern California District Court, 2008)

  44. somewhat.freindly@yahoo.com
    September 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    What is different from selling your home to an illegal pot grower, carrying the note (perfectly legal) and then finding out that they totally ruined the property. The seller gets it back, and is unable to sell it because it cannot be financed and nobody wants to buy a uninhabitable structure. I really doesn’t matter how much was paid down or how much the monthly payment was, because that is what is called a “seller carry”. Get informed and be knowledgeable. Otherwise this is just nonsense.

  45. Not A Native
    September 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    When a legitimate property seller lends money to a buyer, they investigate the buyer’s ability to repay the loan and verify the payments will come from legitimate sources. Otherwise, the seller is essentially a partner in a criminal enterprise.

    It seems that some commenters here are essentially trying to figure out how to ‘game’ the legal system to structure a sale to take a share of illegal profits without sharing the risks of illegality. They look at this news item and ask, did someone get away with it and how did they do it? More importantly, can I do it too? I get it, its the idea that you should take criminal profits that you see exist if you can figure a way to not get caught. An antisocial criminal mentality.

    Funny though, in TV dramas the most heinous bad guys are the ones who finance and enable a criminal operation, hiding behind fronts of legitimacy, while the ‘grunt’ criminals run the illegal operations and get caught with lots of physical evidence.

    Now just how can someone show they have an ability to make $19,000 in annual payments for non-income producing raw cutover land? If they say they have substantial ‘unreported income’ isn’t that already a declaration of illegality? .

  46. Anonymous
    September 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Same way most of us have to pay our mortgages, NAN.

  47. Not A Native
    September 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    A bank won’t give a mortgage based on ‘unreported income’, anon. But a seller wanting to finance a criminal enterprise might.

  48. Anonymous
    September 14, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    When a legitimate property seller lends money to a buyer, they investigate the buyer’s ability to repay the loan and verify the payments will come from legitimate sources. Otherwise, the seller is essentially a partner in a criminal enterprise.

    Can you say Fannie May and Freddie Mac?

  49. Plain Jane
    September 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders who supposedly investigated the buyer’s ability to pay.

  50. Anonymous
    September 14, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    This was just property, correct? Difficult to ruin the value and not such a risk to carry the loan. You get the property back if they default.

  51. Anonymous
    September 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    “It seems that some commenters here are essentially trying to figure out how to ‘game’ the legal system to structure a sale to take a share of illegal profits without sharing the risks of illegality. They look at this news item and ask, did someone get away with it and how did they do it? More importantly, can I do it too? I get it, its the idea that you should take criminal profits that you see exist if you can figure a way to not get caught. An antisocial criminal mentality.”

    See county medical marijuana ordinance and state sales tax…

  52. Ben
    September 15, 2011 at 8:15 am

    We all are profiting from this “illegal” enterprise. Every local business sells products that are either directly (NorthCoast Horticultural Supply) or indirectly (food stores) reliant on this acitivity. Every business I know has seen the change in how people shop. We all see the big 4X4 trucks roll in and pay with $100 dollar bills. We all see the parade of those trucks with pallets of potting soil going out rural roads. It is common to see a huge delivery truck loaded with pallets of soil in the most remote areas of the County.
    So when we focus on this one operation, which was over the top, we are ignoring the reality of what is happening in our grow houses and in rural areas. I have been in a rural area where you can see rows of MJ in plain view, how bold!
    The sad part is that there are huge areas of Humboldt County that are now completely outlaw, with no law enforcement. The Forest Service will not even send in their folks to these areas.
    The bust on the the land that started this thread was a sharecropping scheme. Use my land and I get a cut.
    The sad part is that there is a whole generation of young people that do not know any other way of making a living and are addicted to easy tax free income and if this falls apart, what are they to do because we have a false economy with very little other opportunities. Just look at all of these little botique shops with expensive things to sell that are either laundering money or rely on the illegal income.

  53. Anonymous
    September 15, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Not to mention NAN and Plain Jane who are involved in outright political corruption; systematically lobbying the voters of Humboldt county through the use of the political blogs primarily composed of, and associated with clandestine, mob backed, drug trafficking (insert pot growers here). Throw em’ in jail and let em’ rot!

  54. skippy
    September 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    A letter from the 2008 archives, by Anonymous and cleaned up a tad…

    THE people whom the shares were sold were told they could– or had– to grow weed to pay for their shares. They were given a “plot” of land to grow on. Josh Hedlund got busted and his scam was discovered. The Feds, the State, and the IRS looked into these LLCs. Guess what? There was 2000 acres in Humboldt-Mendocino bought placed into a LLC 3 years before. The Feds/State/IRS pooled their resources and actually went to work.

    “WHEN people buy shares in an LLC there’s a record. The Feds/State/IRS looked into each person who was a “partner” (share holder) in the Lost Paradise/Robert Juan/Buddhaville LLC. They looked into their tax records, credit records, phone records. Where did the money come from to buy into the LLC? What other places were these people involved in? Where did they live before they moved there? This isn’t brain surgery. The Feds/State/IRS did over flights taking pictures over the last two years. New roads, greenhouses, buildings, trucks, generators. They gathered all this info and pointed to what they wanted: a cartel growing weed, and lots of it, for a HUGE profit. The Feds wanted to make this huge bust.

    “BUT they found almost nothing there. Surely they weren’t getting rich. There was no evidence of a ‘cartel’ for sure. It looks like a bunch of people were offered a way to buy some land that was not supposed to be subdivided– and own a piece of the American Dream. They should’ve known better. So now the Feds/State/IRS take all the info they found and confirm that they fucked up. They didn’t find the BIG cartel happening in Hippieville. Probably nobody went there in person to see what was really happening during their 2 year investigation. That might not have stopped them, though. They can make a semi-innocent land endeavor look like the Cali Cartel, if they try hard enough.

    “THESE people brought the heat down on themselves. There are some very big and greedy assholes out there in the hills. As for the younger people who are being stupid, somebody should pull them aside and tell them to get a clue. These LLC subdivisions are the grotesque spawn of a twisted and greedy mind; their purpose is to enrich the few at the expense of the many having little to no legal rights to the “real property” they were “sold.” Those who were “sold” land at outrageous terms were indentured servants or sharecroppers to our very own local landed gentry.

    “THOSE small time and unsuspecting regular folks are now suffering the consequences: potentially being charged as part of a criminal conspiracy and losing their land. What a shame; a new low in North Coast history.

  55. skippy
    September 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    One more. A great letter by uber-poster Suzy Blah Blah offering a different perspective and food for thought. (Thank you, Suzy).

    THE FAMILY GROWER, who was more the norm in the past, is disappearing today, either moving, dying, or quitting growing.

    “THERE are more and more of these single male growers on the scene. I was born and raised in SoHum. My parents are/were “mom and pop”, small time growers here since ’74. I was born in the eighties. I grew up “immersed” in the culture, literally.

    “WHAT I see is that things used to be more family oriented. I met lots of little kids, children of hippies, at potlucks in the hills and at events in town as I grew up. Now they’re all grown up themselves, and there are all these young male growers in our midst. Usually they get land to grow on through their families. Or the money to buy it through being connected to the community. But it seems that is just the thing that has disconnected them. Isolated them. I don’t see any young people contributing to the community the way our parents did. Our parents were into communal living, sharing, building alternatives, like schools, radio, community center, heath center, and so forth. Dare I say it, they were more spiritually minded. But the philosophy is different now, and the discussion around the bong is not the same as it used to be 20 or 30 years ago.

    “TAKE a look, these young dude growers, YDGs, are all over town. And from having lots of experience and interaction with them, what I observe is that most of them don’t really like women too much. Except to have us cook for them, clean for them, do their laundry, be on their arm as a trophy when needed, and of course –be there to get fucked by them– in more ways than one. But as far as being an equal partner with them, ha ha, conversing with them, just try it, communicating, being respected by them, um –need I go on? For the most part they’re chauvinists, self centered, greedy, and really, really stupid when it comes to any subject beyond the scope of pot.

    “IT’S really getting really really disgusting hereabouts. There’s nary a drop of originality or innovation among these YDGs. Basically they are all clones of each other. It’s getting to be that you have to go to another community to find any real men between 20 and 40 anymore.”

    Well said, Suzy. Thank you.

  56. PM
    January 24, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Josh “HadLand” still has land don’t be fooled. He is fresh out from his prison 101 course and ready to make deals. Hand him the cash and he’ll leave you the bag. He may use a different face to sell the bridge his brother Ben or perhaps the “Land Man”. The LLC’s may have changed but the game has become FAR more tricky. Prepare to buy land then find out it’s been dirtied by easements you don’t own, timber you don’t own, been listed on a Fed watch list. Prepare to have your payments diverted to Joshee Poo’s personal greed and come home to foreclosure on your property because he never made the payments to the deed holder. Prepare to sign contracts to not grow, then get turned in to lighten his next sentence. Then again this is how he treats his friends, ask his enemies what he’ll do and the answer is ABSOLUTELY anything! When all is said and done don’t sue Josh he’s just a corporation. Hell he doesn’t REALLY own anything anyway -or does he?

  57. Anonymous
    March 26, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I heard he even scammed his wife and kids.

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