Today the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Marijuana Enforcement Team announced the beginning of Operation Hammer Strike. This marks the first time five Marijuana Enforcement Teams have been used to serve warrants within the county. Prior to July 2021, there had been only one Marijuana Enforcement Team operating in the entire San Bernardino County. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted to provide the Sheriffs’ Department with over $2 million in funding to increase their presence within the county. This resulted in an additional four Marijuana Enforcement Teams being added to the roster.
Operation Hammer Strike is the first operation that included all five teams. In just the first week of the operation, thirteen locations were served warrants in locations throughout unincorporated desert communities across the county. Between August 30, 2021, and September 2, 2021, Marijuana Enforcement Teams and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies served 13 search warrants in and around the communities of Hesperia, Pinon Hills, Phelan, and Landers. Marijuana Enforcement had received multiple complaints about large outdoor marijuana cultivations in these areas.
Warrants were served 1) Near the 17500 Block of Danbury, Hesperia; 2) A parcel with no address, Landers; 3) Near the 3600 Block of Acoma Trail, Landers; 4) 56100 Block of Valley View, Landers; 5) A parcel with no address, Landers; 6) A parcel with no address, Landers; 7) A parcel with no address, Landers; 8) Near the 2700 Block of Dusty Mile Road, Landers; 9) Near the 2300 Block of Yellowknife Road, Landers; 10) A parcel with no address, Landers; 11) Near the1500 Block of Sierra Road, Pinon Hills; 12) Near the 5800 Block of Coyote Road, Phelan; and 13) Near the 12200 Block of Mountain Road, Pinon Hills.
Twelve suspects were arrested, including Victor Khamphilavanh, a 52-year-old male resident of Landers; Saykhone Phonepriasitm, a 44-year-old male of Milwaukee, WI; Howard Edwards, a 55-year-old male of Calumet Park, IL; Kikoi Sikhathakhosa, 42-year-old male resident of Landers; Lymontry Phonesavanh, 37-year-old male resident of Milwaukee, WI; Scott Heyden, 62-year-old male resident of Castellanos, CA; Gabriel Jimenez, 51-year-old male resident of Pinon Hills; Luz Galvan, the 43-year-old female resident of Pinon Hills; Somphas Sin, 52-year-old male resident of Phelan; Rogelio Cantu, 27-year-old male resident of Pinon Hills; and Rosalinda Sanchez, the 55-year-old female resident of Pinon Hills. All of the suspects were charged with Cultivation of Cannabis; over six plants.
Investigators seized 10,105 marijuana plants, 1,334.8 pounds of processed marijuana, three guns, and over $30,000.00 in cash. Investigators mitigated one electrical bypass and eradicated 39 greenhouses. This series of warrants are the first the Sheriff’s Department has released information on since around July 10, 2021, though the Marijuana Enforcement Teams have been serving warrants as reported to NewsPlus by eyewitnesses.
The name Operation “Hammer Strike” most likely comes from a comment San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus used at a recent town hall meeting describing how he will continue the path taken by recently retired Sheriff John McMahon. “I want to assure you that the path the [former] Sheriff has taken, that same path will be continued. Know that we’re keeping the course, and I’ve had absolutely the best mentor I could possibly have. I know when to throw grace at a problem, but I also know when to throw a 10-pound hammer, and I’m not afraid to use it.”
It was determined that the cannabis cultivation was not in compliance with California’s Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) and San Bernardino County’s ordinance prohibiting Commercial Cannabis Activity. San Bernardino County has a law prohibiting Commercial Cannabis Activity, which includes growing marijuana plants outdoors.
The Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division will continue to enforce California’s cannabis laws and San Bernardino County’s cannabis cultivation and distribution ordinance. Persons found guilty of violating the State law and county ordinance are subject to fines, prosecution, and seizure of property.
Property owners who are growing marijuana or are aware their tenants are growing marijuana on their properties violate the state law and local ordinances; they may also be subject to civil or criminal sanctions. Property owners are encouraged to contact their local law enforcement or code compliance agency to confirm if cultivating cannabis is prohibited or allowed under specific regulations.
To report possible illegal marijuana grows or activities, call the CalCannabis tip line at 1-833-933-3847 (1-833-WEED-TIP) and the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-782-7463 (1-800-78-CRIME) or leave information at www.wetip.com.
Additionally, call the Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division at 1-909-387-8400 or email NARC-MET@sbcsd.org and let the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors know by emailing the San Bernardino County Clerk of the Board at COB@sbcounty.gov. Residents can also speak to the supervisors during their board meetings. This can be done in person or virtually at one of the county’s several government centers. Visit sbcounty.gov/main/pages/BOS for more information.
Residents can also report suspected violations to Code Enforcement via their website at sbcountylus.force.com/lus/servicetypes.
Report any suspicious water activitiy to the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District at 760-868-1212 or Visit www.pphcsd.org for more information.