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Multiagency federal search warrant operation in Shiprock may be connected to hemp farms

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — Multiple law enforcement agencies served federal search warrants in the Shiprock area on Nov. 9, an action possibly connected to farms that have been allegedly producing hemp and marijuana.

The announcement was made by the FBI in a media alert that stated the agency was working with federal, state, local and tribal agencies to execute the warrants.

"As this is an ongoing investigation, in accordance with Department of Justice policy, we cannot comment further at this time," the release states.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher declined to confirm whether the actions by law enforcement were tied to multiple farming operation that started this year. He declined comment, citing that the search warrants are sealed.

Plants are visible inside greenhouses at a hemp cultivation site on Sept. 23 in Shiprock.

A telephone call from a resident in Shiprock to The Daily Times on Nov. 9, stated law enforcement were seen traveling to locations where farms had been growing cannabis plants.

MORE:Navajo Nation police, agencies update residents on efforts to end hemp, marijuana farms

The Navajo Police Department posted on its Facebook page a public alert at 8:11 a.m. on Nov. 9 about the multiagency operation.

"At this time, we stress that there is no threat in the community, and we ask the public to refrain from interfering with police activity," the post states.

The entrance to a hemp farm on Mesa Farm Road in Shiprock is locked on Sept. 23.

The Navajo police were among the agencies listed by the FBI that are helping with the investigation. Among those also listed were police departments from Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service.

MORE:Navajo Nation sues 33 farmers over hemp, marijuana farms

The action comes almost two months after a tribal court in Shiprock issued a temporary restraining order to stop hemp farms in the community and the surrounding area.

Last month, the tribal government filed a lawsuit against 33 individuals who allegedly leased their land for cannabis operations, a plant that is illegal on the Navajo Nation.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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