‘It brought back horrible memories’: National Guard chopper on pot patrols causes a scare

Sheriff's office teams up with military, state agencies to serve search warrants

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Wendy Kornberg was preparing for a birthday party for her daughter when a military helicopter swooped just a few hundred feet above her home. It scared her. It scared her daughter. It scared the family dog.

“I looked up and it flew right over my house,” she said Tuesday evening from her Southern Humboldt County homestead. “It was so low I could see the plate in the bottom of the helicopter.”

Kornberg, who is the president and CEO of Sunnabis, a full-sun cannabis farm, remembers the raids growing up in Humboldt County in the 1980s and 90s.

“It brought back horrible memories of childhood. Our family never got raided but our neighbors did,” she said. “We heard the horror stories from the boys (who lived nearby.)”

She said other Southern Humboldt neighbors reacted similarly. One neighbor who visited her Tuesday afternoon said it ignited a PTSD over the raids of past enforcement actions.

“I am still kind of shaky about it. It sent me into an immediate panic,” Kornberg said. “There is nothing here. We have our permits. We have six personal use plants here. And it still absolutely panicked me. I am really upset about it.”

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said in a video posted Tuesday afternoon he was the one who called the National Guard in to help.

“The National Guard is here on my request,” Honsal said. “And they are working with us to help us with the illicit marijuana industry. It has been a problem here in Humboldt County for years.”

He said the governor had approved sending National Guard units to assist in combating illicit cannabis activity, something the governor said would be part of his budget earlier this year.

“I want to assure people that they are working for me and at my direction,” Honsal added.

Honsal said the partnership would continue throughout the summer. He noted that the activity was not aimed at those who are part of the permit process.

As part of the action, the county and National Guard are working with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Environmental Health, the State Water Board and other agencies. The plan is to serve search warrants at suspect grows with an eye for reducing environmental and permitting violations, Honsal said.

“If you are not already there, get legitimate,” Honsal urged.

Like Kornberg, not all county residents are on board with the flyovers.

“Those 99 plants small mom and pop grows are what Humboldt County is made of and are often very clean operations. … Humboldt County has been supported by us for many decades,” one Facebook user wrote on the Times-Standard’s Facebook page in response to the news.

Kornberg said it doesn’t make sense to fly low over a homestead that has its permits and paperwork in order, especially if the target is larger grows.

“Most people around here — this is the thing — most of the people in this community aren’t growing anymore. They all have zero to six plants. None of us enjoy having a giant military helicopter fly over our home.”

Watch the video:

Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.

blog comments powered by Disqus