Deserts

Illegal Perris Valley Cannabis Grows Destroyed During Crackdown

Multiple law enforcement raids carried out in communities surrounding Perris resulted in 47 tons of marijuana being destroyed, several drug labs being dismantled and almost 50 people going to jail, authorities said Friday. Riverside County sheriff’s officials said that on Thursday, 56 search warrants were served at properties under investigation for alleged illegal cannabis cultivation. The raids got underway between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and concluded by nightfall. Locations were not specified. “The emphasis of this operation was placed on the illegal cultivation sites,” according to a sheriff’s statement. “Crimes associated with illegal marijuana cultivation range from theft, robbery, burglary and homicides. Many of these illegal marijuana cultivations use chemicals that are banned in the United States and do not properly dispose of chemicals or waste products … Not only is this activity harmful, growers often steal electricity and water from surrounding residents.” Officials said 49 people were taken into custody on various allegations. No one was immediately identified. Almost 400 deputies and other law enforcement agents were involved in the raids, seizing 71 firearms and dismantling two butane honey oil labs, according to…

Murderer released after being deemed too old to kill again, kills again

A 77-year-old murderer — back on the streets because he was deemed too old to kill again — was convicted this week of fatally stabbing a Maine woman while her twin children watched. It took less than an hour for jurors in Auburn to find Albert Flick guilty of murdering Kimberly Dobbie, 48, outside a Lewiston laundromat on July 15, 2018. Her twin 11-year-old sons were nearby and security cameras captured the moments they ran to their mother as she was being killed. “I’m glad the verdict is done and over and I’m glad he’ll never be able to walk the streets again,” Dobbie’s friend James Lipps told reporters outside the court Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis said he’ll ask a judge to make sure Flick doesn’t see the light of day again. The prosecutor told NBC affiliate WCSH in Portland that he was particularly saddened knowing that Dobbie’s children will never be able to shake the impact of their mom’s murder. The boys are now living with a grandmother in Massachusetts. “What happened to these children is just horrific,” Ellis said. “I know there…

Police Investigating Reports of Shooting In Palm Desert

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a report of a shooting Friday morning in Palm Desert. A 911 call came in just before 4:45 a.m. Friday, reporting “the discharging of a firearm” in the area of Country Club Drive and Portola Avenue, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies arrived and discovered evidence of a shooting, but did not find any suspects or victims. The sheriff’s department did not say what evidence was found. Country Club Drive was closed east of Portola Avenue until about 5:40 a.m. The shooting remains under investigation. There were no reported injuries, deputies said.

Average Riverside County Gas Price Drops For 12th Time in 14 Days

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Riverside County dropped Friday for seventh consecutive day and the 12th time in 14 days, decreasing six-tenths of a cent to $3.645. The average price has dropped 4.1 cents over the past 14 days, including three-tenths of a cent on Thursday, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. The average price is 3.4 cents less than one week ago and 4.4 cents lower than one month ago, but 8.1 cents higher than one year ago. “There are reports of ample supply in the Southern California fuel market, which should continue to push down prices in the near future,” said Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager. “Oil prices have also dropped recently and if that trend continues, it could help reduce prices at the pump.”

Trump distances himself from ‘send her back’ chants he inspired

President Donald Trump on Thursday attempted to distance himself from a boisterous “send her back” chant aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that occurred at his campaign rally Wednesday night. “I was not happy with it — I disagree with it,” Trump told reporters at the White House of the chant, which appeared to be based off of his widely criticized recent tweets attacking the lawmaker and others, adding, “I didn’t say that, they did.” He later told reporters that the chanters “love our country.” The chant broke out among rally-goers in North Carolina after the president went on an extended rant about Omar and three of her House colleagues — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. “Omar laughed that Americans speak of al Qaeda in a menacing tone,” Trump said of the congresswoman on Wednesday night. “You don’t say America with this intensity. You say al Qaeda makes you proud. Al Qaeda makes you proud. You don’t speak that way about America,” he added, referring to her remarks in a 2013 interview. Politifact, an independent fact-checking organization, rated his past characterization…

Wind Turbines Gain Local Interest

It is a sign that home is not too far away, the wind turbines in the Coachella Valley are part of the desert landscape but the photogenic backdrop serves an important purpose. Randy Buckmaster works with the Palm Springs Midmill Tours and said visitors are interested to learn how the turbines work.  He says the energy that comes from the wind in the San Gorgonio Pass is used in local households but it is also sent to other power grids in the Riverside and Los Angeles areas. Buckmaster said, “They’re what you call upwind machines they always want to be facing directly to the wind and so they move themselves to always be facing directly to the wind, they do all on their own.” Recently, he noticed more locals interested in his tours. He said people are genuinely curious to know about the mechanics but the President’s criticism of wind-turbines, in general, is also catching attention. “You hear about the noise and you hear about the birds so people are skeptical about it, and that’s why people come on our tours to find out because…

DUI Offender Admits Killing Banning Motorcyclist in Collision

A probationer who struck and killed a 65-year-old motorcyclist in Banning while driving under the influence pleaded guilty Thursday to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter and other offenses. Gabriel Simeon Beltran, 27, of Beaumont admitted the manslaughter count, as well as assault resulting in great bodily injury, breaching a roadway divider resulting in injuries and a sentence-enhancing allegation of fleeing the scene of a crime. In exchange for his admissions, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped six related charges. Superior Court Judge Becky Dugan scheduled a sentencing hearing for Aug. 19 at the Banning Justice Center. Beltran is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. According to Banning police, the defendant slammed into Vincent Hernandez of Banning on the evening of Dec. 13, 2017. Beltran was driving his SUV drunk through the intersection of South San Gorgonio Avenue and Wesley Street when he went into opposing traffic lanes and ran into Hernandez, killing the motorcyclist on the spot, police said. Beltran abandoned his vehicle and ran away. Officers located him two hours later at a residence on North Eighth Street, where…

House approves $15 minimum wage; Senate prospects are dim

House Democrats approved legislation Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, to $15 an hour, but the bill has almost no chance in the Republican-controlled Senate. Passage was assured after centrists won concessions for a slower phase-in, over six years instead of five. They also won assurances the pay hike could be halted midway if a study shows job losses or other adverse effects. A hike in the $7.25 hourly wage has been a top Democratic campaign promise, intended to address income inequality that’s driving the 2020 political debate. Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said raising the wage is the “right thing to do.” “America’s workers deserve a raise,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference with labor leaders and employees ahead of voting. Lifting a young girl into her arms, Pelosi said, “This is what it’s all about… It’s about family.” The legislation would, for the first time, pay tipped workers the same as others earning the minimum wage, boosting their pay to $15 an hour, too. It’s now $2.13. Republicans in the House…

What You Should Know If ICE Shows Up to Your Workplace

  The feelings of fear and uncertainty continue to grow in migrant communities as they hold on to hope raids won’t hit their city. NBC Palm Springs has gone over what you can do in the case ICE agents come to your home, or even stop you on the streets. Today, we look into what you can do if ice catches you on the clock.  14 year-old Luz Chavez and her father, Geronimo, live to serve, and are aware of everything there is to know should ICE knock on the door at your workplace. In fact, they have spent the last several years informing immigrants of such rights. “If they don’t come in with a warrant under your name, they can’t arrest you. Just through the peephole, tell them, can you slide down all the paperwork you have, and if it;s not a court order warrant, they cannot come in. However, if you open the door fully, your rights are vanished,” Luz told NBC Palm Springs. The right to keep the door closed, and the right to remain silent, protect every person in the United…

Trainer Bob Baffert Speaks Out After Two Horses Killed in Head On Collision at Del Mar

A freak accident claimed the lives of two thoroughbred horses and injured a jockey at Del Mar Racetrack on Thursday morning.  “From the clinical examination of the horses it appears both suffered cervical fractures and both were dead on the racetrack,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, a veterinary with the California Racing Board. One of the horses that died was trained by Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert, he was there when it happened.   “I’ve been around a long time, I‘ve never seen anything like that it happened so quick … I’m still shaken up from it,” said Baffert. He says during the morning training session a loose horse made a turn in front of three horses running full speed, the result was catastrophic, “I’ve seen horses like they’ll get loose and they’ll hit each other but never like a head on … it was like a car hanging a U right in front of the freeway and going the wrong way that’s what happened.” He says the collision was unavoidable, “Those horses were coming around and they didn’t see him until two seconds before,…

Man Facing 31 to Life for DUI Crash That Killed Pregnant Woman, Unborn Child

A drunk driver who rear-ended a pregnant woman’s car in Ramona two years ago, killing the woman and her unborn child, is slated to be sentenced to 31 years to life in state prison next month. Andrew Milonis, 46, was convicted Wednesday of charges that include murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run for the Mother’s Day 2017 crash that killed 29-year-old Jessica Foderingham and her unborn daughter, who she and her husband had planned to name Ayanna. Foderingham was eight months pregnant when her Dodge Dart was hit, sending it careening into a tree in the center median on San Vicente Road at about 6:45 p.m. on May 14, 2017. San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Laura Evans said in her opening statement that Milonis’ blood-alcohol content was nearly quadruple the legal limit when his SUV slammed into the back of Foderingham’s car. Evans said Milonis had been drinking throughout the day, downing at least seven drinks at a local bar before he got behind the wheel of his GMC Yukon. The prosecutor said a bartender recommended that Milonis arrange a Lyft ride…

Keys View Overlook In Joshua Tree Closed Due To ‘High Bee Activity’

A popular overlook point in Joshua Tree National Park has been temporarily closed due to bees, park officials said Thursday. The Keys View overlook, which is in the Riverside County section of the park and provides sweeping views of the Coachella Valley, is closed until further notice due to what was described as “high bee activity,” according to a statement from park officials. The closure is both to protect visitors and to encourage bees in the area to move on — moisture from cars and water bottles attracts bees in the summer, officials said. “Bees require this extra water to cool their hives during the hottest days,” park officials said. “They will pester visitors for their water bottles, the condensation from their vehicle air conditioners and even for their sweat.” The temporary closure will limit the water available for the bees and give them time to leave, officials said. There was no indication given on when the area may reopen, but visitors were encouraged to stay updated by checking the park’s website and social media accounts.

Illegal Perris Valley Cannabis Grows Targeted in Crackdown

Multiple raids were carried out Thursday in communities surrounding Perris, where Riverside County sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement personnel targeted illegal marijuana grows, seizing roughly six tons of raw and processed product, as well as arresting at least 10 people. Sheriff’s officials said 32 search warrants were served at properties under investigation for alleged illegal cultivation of cannabis. The raids got underway between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., though specific locations were not disclosed. Officials also did not immediately release details about the arrests, during which 21 firearms were confiscated and one butane honey oil lab was dismantled. Honey oil, also known as “wax” or “hash,” is a liquefied marijuana derivative. Drug lab operators use butane stoves to extract tincture from cannabis plants that can be mixed with anything and bottled. Numerous explosions and fires have occurred throughout the Inland Empire over the past decade as a result of home-based honey oil manufacturing. The practice has become so rampant and potentially destructive that the District Attorney’s Office in 2017 released a series of public service announcements, warning of the dangers and consequences of making…

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