Sheriff Raids Marijuana Grows, Church Leader Responds


In the past week, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office has put out two press releases related to search warrants and arrests of allegedly illegal marijuana grows.  One of these occurred on September 19, 2017.

Earlier in the week, the sheriff’s department sent out a press release indicating that a search warrant was served at a property on the 7000 block of State Route 16 on September 19, 2017, resulting in five arrests and the confiscation of a large quantity of marijuana that was allegedly being cultivated unlawfully.

The cultivation of cannabis in the County of Yolo requires a permit per County Code section 5-20.01, according to the release.

Yolo County Sheriff’s Office deputies reportedly removed 2,227 growing marijuana plants and collected 41 pounds of harvested marijuana during this operation. The value of the marijuana is estimated at over five million dollars.

Guangyang Bao, 60, of Sacramento, Jian Fang, 54, of Sacramento, Sinh Lieu, 52, of Sacramento, Bobby Lieu, 55, of Sacramento, and Paofu Chen, 34, of Queens, New York, were booked into the Yolo County Jail. All were charged with felony counts of possession of marijuana for sale, cultivation of marijuana, maintaining a place for the purpose of unlawful drug sales, and conspiracy.

On September 22, 2017, an additional search warrant was served at a property on the 14000 block of County Road 41a, resulting in a single arrest.

Deputies collected 498 growing marijuana plants with an estimated value of approximately $750,000. The arrestee was also found to be a felon in possession of ammunition.

Allen Nelson, 30, of Sacramento, was booked into the Yolo County Jail. He was charged with cultivation of marijuana, conspiracy, and possession of ammunition by a prohibited person.

Heidi Lepp of the Sugarleaf Rasta Church put out a lengthy response, stating, “The above named church members were volunteers and in very good standing with our church and standards. The charges
against all are false with police misconduct.”

She writes of Allen Nelson:

“Allen did not have guns nor was the ammunition his. It was the landlord Gunner and I will get a sworn affidavit. They were old shot gun shells in his barn. This was the church that was burnt to the ground by we don’t know who yet. We would like to find out who. Allen’s probation officer even recommended he be let out on OR and the Judge who I am pending federal litigation with, Judge Reed, will not let him out and they are keeping him on lockdown.

“Allen cannot use the phone to call his attorney or his reverend.  This is very serious violation of his civil rights and disheartening to know and we are all very scared by this behavior on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office.

“Allen has not been able to call out and they told me at the jail I was lying. That he is in general population and able to call. We spoke to him last night and that is not true. We are very seriously worried about him.

“There was no victim that the court can provide. The county has violated our civil rights, divine rights, 1st, 4th, 6th and 14th amendment rights,” Ms. Lepp writes.  “The hate crimes that are taking place on our churches has done significant spiritual harm to us, which has put us at a loss for words. Ms. Chew from Lucky Star Church was suicidal over all of this that happened.

“The church that burnt down and that is a suspected arson case, was raided on 9/19/2017 and the Sheriffs slit their tents and destroyed their clothes that were donated from other churches, by emptying sardine cans on them,” Ms. Lepp continues.  She alleges that on September 19, 2017, “2017 the Yolo County Sheriff’s raided our church without a ‘special master’ (making the warrant completely invalid) according to P.C. CHAPTER 3. Of Search Warrants [1523 – 1542.5]c).”

She writes, “Any attempt to enter our properties without a ‘governmental compelling interest’ or to restrict our religious observance of sacraments or to dictate how they go about that is a direct violation of our civil rights and our protections under the US Constitution and established law.”

She notes, “There is not one case of death or serious harm related to Cannabis use in any way.”

The two searches would seem to mark the beginning of a new crackdown of illegal grows in  Yolo County.  In a September 29 release, the sheriff’s department noted it “is attentively enforcing the law related to the cultivation of marijuana. While the cultivation of cannabis is permissible in the County of Yolo under certain circumstances, it requires a permit per County Code section 5-20.01.

“Unlawful cultivation sites are being eradicated county-wide as the locations of the grows become known.”

The defendants in this case were arraigned ten days ago and face a preliminary hearing currently scheduled for November 3.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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6 thoughts on “Sheriff Raids Marijuana Grows, Church Leader Responds”

  1. Tia Will

    I am wondering if a more reasonable approach might have been to request that the marijuana growers obtain the appropriate permit before using taxpayer money to fund such a raid. David, do you know if this step had been taken ?

    1. David Greenwald

      I think part of the issue is that there are only limited numbers of permits, but this was definitely a heavy-handed approach and I’m sure we’ll hear about some of the police tactics in the coming weeks.

  2. Tia Will

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for the links. Nice to have a little additional perspective. I had no idea we were walking the line between church/state, whose religion is it anyway ?,  potential overzealous police action and any number of other citizen vs police scams. Lots of room for potential entertainment and waste of state funds here.


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