On Wednesday, Ryan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Pearmain, 24, appeared in federal court after criminal charges were filed against them for kidnapping, tormenting, and raping a 15-year-old Los Angeles girl at their Lake County, California marijuana farm, where she was held as a sex slave. Even though marijuana isn't typically associated with kidnapping, violence, and rape, cases like this offer evidence that use and sale of the drug are not mutually exclusive from acts of violence.
According to the girl, the two men kept her in a 4 foot long, 2 foot wide, and 2 foot deep toolbox for at least three days before she was found. The girl claimed the men were on a "mission," and in order to protect their operation and prevent the girl from, "ruining the mission," or, "going off and saying something about the mission," they kept her locked up. They even had a hose going into the box that enabled the girl to wash, and to rinse away her human waste.
Authorities found the girl when they traced a cell phone call to a hotel in Sacramento, California, where she was staying with Pearmain on April 30. Pearmain was immediately taken into custody, and Balletto was arrested the next day when authorities found him in a trailer on the Lake County property; the lot contained three large greenhouses holding over 1,300 individually potted and irrigated marijuana plants, as well as a stash of weapons including assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, loaded magazines, night-vision scopes, ballistic face and gas masks, body armor, and a large cache of assorted ammunition. There was also a noose, a rack to hold someone to a wall against their will, and several bondage-related sex devices near the box where the girl was held.
The more of these cases authorities see, the harder they're going to crack down on marijuana growers, regardless of the drug's intended use and destination. Drug raids will become more prominent, and while it may create an annoyance to marijuana harvesters who merely want to relax and satisfy their own cravings — or, god forbid, use the drug medical purposes — if more drug busts can effectively decrease violence and save even one more victim, we've got to support a tighter watch on marijuana-growing operations.