Murder Mountain: Welcome to Humboldt County
A 6-episode Netflix series, released in December 2018.
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.
Description source Fusion TV
Of Death And Weed On ‘Murder Mountain’
by David Alm
In 2012, a 29-year-old surfer from Southern California named Garrett Rodriguez migrated north to grow marijuana in the hills of Humboldt County. He disappeared within a year, never to be heard from again, but the authorities had either little interest or limited capacity to search for him. Rodriguez was just one of the many missing people in Humboldt, a county that’s long been a magnet for those looking to get lost in the lush, green wilderness of Northern California.
Some come in peace, others with darker motives. Rodriguez, say those who knew him best, was among the former, but that didn’t make him immune to the violence that permeates the area — namely, a particularly remote part of Humboldt County known locally as “Murder Mountain.”
A new 6-part documentary series of the same name, which streamed this fall on Fusion and is now on Netflix, investigates Rodriguez’s disappearance against the backdrop of Humboldt County’s history with marijuana cultivation, and the extraordinary changes that have taken place there over the past two decades, since medical marijuana was provisionally legalized in the state with the passage of Proposition 215, in 1996.
In Murder Mountain’s telling, what began half a century ago with a handful of idealists looking to create their own little utopia in the woods has morphed into a vicious, lawless land where farmers are just as likely to get killed for their product as paid, where female weed trimmers may be told to do their jobs topless, and where bodies and cash are buried between the towering, thousand-year-old trees.
In the 1960s, land in Humboldt was cheap and mostly unpopulated, making it an oasis for people looking to escape the grid. They built homes, schools and libraries. Some also built marijuana farms, sequestered deep behind the so-called “redwood curtain.” Because they didn’t pay federal taxes, they created their own system of taxation, funneling their profits from selling cannabis right back into their communities. In short, marijuana helped build Humboldt County, which today produces between 60 and 80 percent of the weed sold in the United States.
As the industry has grown, it’s attracted bad elements from around the world, largely replacing the hippie ethos of the OGs — “original growers” — with one of depravity and greed. Nevertheless, and despite the numerous unsolved murders and missing persons in Humboldt County, many of those OGs see legalization as yet one more evil they have to contend with. Regulations and taxation threaten to put some of the smaller growers out of business entirely, so some have opted to remain illegal and sell only to black market buyers from other states. If they’re caught operating without the necessary permits, they face fines so punishing they could be bankrupt within weeks or even days.
Comprising dramatic reenactments as well as interviews with farmers, law enforcement officials, private investigators and residents of the area, Murder Mountain covers a lot of ground without losing a tight grip on the story that ties it all together, the disappearance of Garrett Rodriguez. It’s a fascinating look at an industry in transition, a riveting true crime series, and an expertly woven narrative of American ingenuity and bloodshed. Most importantly, it doesn’t pass judgement, allowing those whose lives and livelihoods are at stake to share their stories.
The season ends with a cliffhanger, suggesting more to come. Let’s hope so. With legalization still in its very nascent stages, both in California and, increasingly, around the country, there’s still much to tell.
Article source Forbes Magazine