Article bThe Associated Press via Global News
Two women have been arrested on charges of holding four brothers captive at an illegal marijuana farm in Northern California and forcing them to work there for six months, police said Wednesday.
The men told police they ran away in July from the secluded pot-growing operation in the small Sierra Nevada foothills town of West Point after overhearing they would be killed once all the marijuana was harvested, Calaveras County Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Macedo said.
Two other men, including the brothers’ nephew, are being sought by authorities from the small, impoverished county undergoing a dramatic transformation because of marijuana cultivation.
The traditionally politically conservative board of supervisors on May 10 made it legal for farmers to grow commercial amounts of medicinal marijuana. The legislation was seen as a way to help the county recover from a devastating wildfire that charred 26 square miles, killing two people and destroying 860 homes in September 2015. The county itself raised $3 million after receiving 700 applications for farming permits, which cost $5,000 each.
The cultivation law was passed over the objection of the sheriff and district attorney, who said the remote county was already overrun with too many illicit pot farms and warned of an influx of unsavoury outsiders.