Human Trafficking Teens in the Cannabis Industry

Outside of the glamour and fame of Hollywood and the bright lights of Los Angeles is a naturally beautiful area of California lined with tall redwood trees called Humboldt County. Coupled with its beauty is a place where law enforcement doesn’t dare to venture. Humboldt County is a 7 billion dollar epicenter for the cannabis industry and home to some of the most violent international gangs who take advantage of the robust terrain and easy going attitude towards drugs. 
 
These illegal operations are creating some serious issues for local law enforcement and the DEA. What used to be a control issue over manufacturing cannabis has manifested into teen human trafficking, sexual assaults, and torture. Right now Humboldt County is not run by local law enforcement, instead, the local lawmakers are the Russian mafia, Mexican mafia, and Asian Triad gangs who make the local law enforcement officers feel unsafe to work on their own beats. To put this into perspective, Humboldt County is one of the largest and most profitable cannabis cultivation centers in the world. 
 
Out of the 1.8 billion dollars spent on legal cannabis, 25% of that is illegal and has become a breeding ground for kidnapping runaway teens who are sent to sex camps and are being gang-raped, forced into perverse sexual acts, and being turned into slaves to work in the cannabis cultivation industry by these ruthless gang members. Law enforcement has known about this for a while now, however, it took the story of a young girl to put Humboldt County under the microscope. 
 
Authorities say that in 2013, two men Patrick Pearmain and Ryan Balletto who are cannabis growers kidnapped a homeless 15-year-old girl from Hollywood and forced her into manual labor on their farm. She was tortured and sexually assaulted by numerous men. For her good deeds, they rewarded her by placing her in a metal toolbox next to their trailer on the farm for days without food or water. When investigators found her they also found a heart-breaking poem inside of the box that described her life in the box. 
 
The secluded nature of these cannabis farms has made it hard to take notice of what’s really going on in Humboldt County. Guards patrol the territory and armed sentries stand at the entry gates with fully automatic machine guns making it unsafe for marked police cars to patrol certain parts of Humboldt County. Many locals refer to the area as like being in the Wild West where anything goes and the men who live in these hills act like savages. 
 
Victims and witnesses are afraid to come forward in fear of their own lives and afraid of the legal repercussions of their own illegal involvement in the cannabis industry and the trafficking of innocent teenage girls. Which has made this a very difficult situation for the DEA and local law enforcement to prosecute these violent sexual offenders who are getting away with heinous crimes in our own backyard.