Murder and marijuana

Published on January 6, 2019 by David Wylie

In the majestic redwood forests of Humboldt County there’s a sinister shadow.

The Northern California community is known for producing 60-80 percent of America’s weed. It also has a striking amount of missing person and murder cases.

The county is the backdrop for the Netflix true-crime documentary, Murder Mountain, which premiered over the holidays. The docuseries focuses on the case of Garret Rodriguez, a 29-year-old who was lured by the chance to make fast cash as a cannabis grower. He was found murdered in the region in 2013.

It sheds a harsh light on the illicit drug industry and shows one aspect of why legalization is important.

‘Get the F- out’

The series shows an overwhelmed police force unable to deal with the modern Wild West, where 15,000 illegal grow operations are crammed within their 4,000 miles of jurisdiction.

It’s quite literally a cutthroat business.

Advice from one man who worked in the local pot industry: “Get the fuck out as soon as humanly possible.”

The silver lining is that legalization is expected to provide some semblance of safety for workers. This is good news and Humboldt County now has Canadian ties.

At least two companies based in Canada have come knocking at Humboldt County’s door, showing interest in the region’s cannabis. Vancouver-based Chemistree and Toronto’s CordovaCann are investing in the area.

Typical Hollywood

The local sheriff’s office called the series “highly sensationalized” and responded to the documentary in a sweeping statement posted to Facebook.

Police said the original plotline pitched to police for their participation was “to examine the changes in the county as a result of marijuana legalization, highlight the challenges of law enforcement in rural jurisdictions, and present a historic comparison of the county’s green rush and timber rushes.”

However, the focus switched to the ongoing homicide investigation of Rodriguez, something police weren’t prepared to talk about in depth.

“To those of you who have seen this series, please understand that you heard one side of a highly sensationalized story,” said police.

“As all things in Hollywood, please know that ‘Murder Mountain’ is a Hollywood manufactured drama based on a true story. It was designed to be sold to Netflix for a profit.”

What is clear is that Rodriguez is the tip of the bloody iceberg.

Canadian also died there

Those missing and/or dead aren’t always tied to crime.

One of the missing posters shown in the doc is for Quebec’s Félix Desautels-Poirier.

The 25-year-old was last seen alive partying with friends on Nov. 6, 2017, at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The man’s father found the body 14 days later, partially submerged in a marsh.

Foul play is not suspected.

Desautels-Poirier was in the area to see a concert.

On social media