On 6-08-2020 between 6:29 and 6:31 PM the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Dispatch received 4 separate 911 calls coming from the Covelo area. Callers reported what sounded like a “shootout” that was occurring near the intersection of Crawford Road and Biggar Lane. Reports ranged from 40 to 200 shots being fired as callers described what sounded like semi-automatic and fully automatic rifle fire.
Members of the Round Valley Indian Reservation Tribal Police also responded to the scene, arriving first, around 6:41 PM. When Tribal Police arrived they observed one male, with a rifle, fleeing the scene on foot in a southbound direction. Tribal Police were eventually able to detain two individuals and located one rifle. Witnesses reported numerous armed Hispanic males fleeing the scene on foot as law enforcement responded.
Mendocino County Patrol Deputies arrived and contacted Tribal Police. Members of the California Highway Patrol also responded to the scene to assist with the incident. The scene was determined to be a very large marijuana growing operation at the south east corner of the intersection of Crawford Road and Biggar Lane. The property consisted of an approximately 10 acre parcel, held in trust by the Federal Government as part of the Reservation system. The property had no real fixed dwellings but had 38 “hoop houses” which are green houses used to cultivate marijuana as well as several camp sites with recreational vehicles and or tents used by those cultivating marijuana. The responding Officers were able to initially detain 4 Hispanic males who indicated they were only working in the marijuana grow but denied knowledge of involvement in the shooting. Deputies noted what appeared to be in excess of 10,000 marijuana plants as well as evidence confirming at least 50 or more rifle rounds having been discharged recently on the property. They noted one green house had many rounds fired into it and one vehicle had numerous rounds fired into it. There appeared to be evidence that rifles, handguns, and shotguns had possibly been discharged at the location.
Deputies then contacted the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Investigations Unit to request assistance. The Mendocino County Marijuana Team, discovering the cultivation activity was not permitted, authored a search warrant for the location. This team was assisted by the Mendocino County Detective Unit and the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force in the service of the warrant. Upon service of the search warrant, investigators located a total of 7 firearms; 3 rifles and 4 handguns, including 2 AR15 style assault rifles with high capacity magazines, one with a suppressor attached. 12022 Marijuana plants, ranging from 6 inches to 6 feet in height, were located and eradicated. Two additional suspects were identified, Foley Azbill and Britton “JR” Azbill, both of Covelo were detained.
The investigation determined this garden might have been grown in a similar method of others recently found in the Covelo area; with Federal Trust Properties being leased by tribal members to non-tribal members for the sole purpose of conducting large marijuana growing operations. Most of the persons detained appeared less than cooperative and no one admitted direct knowledge as to whom had been responsible for the large discharge of firearms. Investigators found no evidence or indication that any person had actually been shot. However, this area is a residential neighborhood with neighbors being less than 200 yards away on all sides of the property as well as roads on two sides that have a high frequency of traffic this time of the day. There is no safe way to discharge a firearm at this location.
Four men were arrested, booked, and then cited for cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale; Rosalio Pena (AKA Armas Severiano), Ruben Hernandez Najera, Osvaldo Garcia Campos, and Angel Maria Ramirez.