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Date Released: 12/7/2006
Subject: Marijuana Investigation
Contact: Brenda Godsey, PIO
Case No#: 200607460
Released By: Sgt. W. Hanson

Location: Salmon Creek/Fortuna

On 12-06-2006 at 1215 hours officers from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County Drug Task Force, Fortuna Police Department, Federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI served search warrants at two separate locations in Humboldt County for marijuana cultivation.

The first location was located on two rural parcels of property located in the Salmon Creek area of southern Humboldt County. At this location officers located a large, sophisticated, commercial indoor marijuana growing operation. Officers located two structures on the property that were being used to cultivate marijuana. Officers seized 9,722 growing marijuana plants that ranged in size from 6 inches to 2 feet. Officers seized a 125 k/w diesel generator that was being used to supply electrical power to the marijuana growing operation. Officers seized two rifles that were located inside one of the structures. Officers seized a 2007, Yamaha ATV that was being used to assist in the indoor marijuana cultivation. This property is owned by a subject named Derrick James Cotter age 30 from Fortuna. No subjects were located on the property when the search warrant was served.

At the same time the search warrant was being served in Salmon Creek, officers served a search warrant at Derrick Cotter’s residence located off Osprey Terrace Lane, Fortuna. Officers located an indoor marijuana operation inside of the residence. The marijuana growing room was located through a trap door on the floor, which was hidden underneath the carpet in the master bedroom closet. When officers opened up the trap door they used a ladder to climb down 15 feet to the marijuana grow room. Officers seized 150 marijuana plants that ranged in size from 2 foot to 3 feet in height. Officers located 2 ½ pounds of processed marijuana buds at the residence. Officers located a large locked gun safe in the garage. Officers contacted a safe company, who then responded to the residence and forced open the safe. Officers seized 27 rifles, 3 handguns and 3 shotguns from inside the safe along with $5,900 dollars in cash. Officers located evidence at the residence that showed that Derrick James Cotter lived at the residence with his wife, Sonja Christina Cotter age 23. No subjects were located at the residence when the search warrant was served.

A short time later officers located Derrick Cotter and Sonya Cotter in the Fortuna area. Both subjects were placed under arrest for cultivation and possession of marijuana for sales. Officers seized a 2006 Chevrolet pickup truck that was registered to Derrick Cotter for possible asset seizure. Officers also froze the Cotters' bank accounts to later seize their accounts for possible asset seizure.

This case has been turned over to the Federal Drug Enforcement administration out of San Francisco for further investigation.