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Are Private Contractors Illegally Raiding Pot Gardens?

Managers of a private California security company insist they’re not behind a rash of midnight marijuana raids from helicopters above Mendocino County.

lear teamArmed men in camouflage gear have been spotted descending into pot gardens in the Emerald Triangle. Locals say the men are cutting down their weed in the dark of night.

Susan Schindler, a resident whose legal cannabis garden was destroyed, said she saw several men descend to her property from an unmarked helicopter. Schindler and others believe a security company called Lear Asset Management is responsible.

Lear is a private company that works with local law enforcement. Police in Mendocino County insisted the company wasn’t involved in any local pot raids and doesn’t execute legal search warrants. But that’s just the problem: Schindler said what happened to her was an illegal search.

“They took hand saws and just cut the trunks,” she said. “There was no paperwork, no copies of any warrants. They didn’t leave any inventory of what they took.”

Lear President Paul Trouette said his company had nothing to do with the raids. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman agreed.

“The sheriff’s department doesn’t hire any private security to go out and do our job,” Allman said.

The sheriff said his department conducted several raids near Schindler’s property on the day her garden was destroyed. But he said his deputies wear badges and announce their presence.

Legalizing Marijuana“I think there are some people who may become paranoid this time of year,” Allman said when asked what Schindler and other pot farmers saw. And Trouette claimed Lear only enters private property with permission.

Schindler doesn’t buy it. For one thing, private contractors now work in almost every paramilitary organization in the United States, from prisons to the military, so it wouldn’t be a great surprise to find they help police carry out raids.

Whoever destroyed Schindler’s garden, she said, they clearly though she was an easy target.

“I think they tried to find places where they saw nobody,” she said. “I think they tried to find places where they would not be confronted with guns.”

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on marijuanaandthelaw.com and californiamarijuanamarket.com.

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