New Docuseries Sheds Light on Humboldt's Missing and the Illicit Pot Trade

As California County News reported back in February, Humbolt County has the highest rate of missing persons in California, and many of them are believed to be tied to the region’s illicit marijuana trade. Now a new Netflix docuseries called “Murder Mountain” is bringing attention to the phenomenon. 

Here’s the show’s summary from Fusion TV:

Murder Mountain is the story of Garret Rodriguez, who left home in San Diego to seek his fortune in the marijuana fields of Humboldt County, California. Within a year he vanished, touching off a series of bloody events that still haunt local residents to this day. Set against the backdrop of marijuana legalization, Humboldt's outlaws are now speaking out for the first time about Garret's fate and the group of vigilantes who brought him home.

There’s no doubt that the black market for marijuana continues to thrive in the state’s Emerald Triangle. And it presents a number of problems for the region — not just violent crime, but environmental degradation too. But as Leafly notes, there’s a lot more to Humbolt County than drug cartels. It’s also a beautiful, progressive part of the state with a number of long-standing mom and pop growers that have been struggling to adjust to the post-64 world.

The large number of missing persons can be partially explained as well.

"It could be that the county sheriff and local police are very aggressive in accepting reports and getting them into the system," Bob Lowery, Vice President of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, previously told the North Coast Journal. "If you dig into those number a little deeper, the reports are generally going to be runaway children."

Lt. Dennis Young said a number of missing persons have gone to work on illegal pot farms and just don’t report back to family. They’re hesitant to confirm their whereabouts to law enforcement for obvious reasons.

The Humbolt County Sheriff's Office has already addressed some of the allegations made in the show. (We're linking to it here because it does contain spoilers.) The Local Coast Outupt has also published an op-ed on what the series got wrong. 

Still, Rodriguez’s story and those of the other truly endangered missing in Humboldt County are cause for concern. For the family members of the hundreds that go missing there every year, the docuseries is a welcome bit of awareness spread.