A Yuba County narcotics officer, who was free on $1 million bail on charges of smuggling marijuana to Pennsylvania, has been arrested in Butte County on a felony charge of possessing an illegal assault rifle, authorities said.
Deputy Christopher Heath, 37, is being held at Butte County jail in lieu of another $1 million in bail after local authorities raided his home Thursday in the rural Butte County foothills town of Bangor. Authorities also seized 132 pounds of marijuana after searching a property connected to one of Heath’s alleged accomplices in the Pennsylvania smuggling case.
Heath, a member of a five-agency Yuba and Sutter county narcotic enforcement team called NET-5, was arrested Dec. 29 in York County on charges of illegally transporting 247 pounds of marijuana that authorities in Pennsylvania estimated at $2 million in value.
Also arrested in the Pennsylvania case was Heath’s brother-in-law, Tyler Long, 31, and a third man, Ryan Falsone, 27, authorities said. All three posted $1 million in bail.
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On Thursday, authorities arrested Long’s mother, Ramona Long, 55, after authorities found marijuana at a property near Heath’s home, where both Ramona and Tyler Long live. Ramona Long was arrested on charges of cultivation of marijuana for sale. She was released after posting $100,000 bail, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Miranda Bowersox said authorities also arrested Heath’s wife, Tatum Heath, 35, on an felony illegal assault weapon count after two weapons were recovered at the Heath household. Tatum Heath was released after posting $15,000 in bail, she said.
Authorities in Butte County requested a bail enhancement for Christopher Heath – and got a judge’s approval – due to the fact he was already out on bail in the Pennsylvania case, Bowersox said.
District attorneys in Yuba and Sutter counties say Heath, an investigator since 2013 for the NET-5 narcotics team, was involved in more than 60 drug cases and prosecutions. Now many of those cases are being reviewed for potential dismissal, and convictions may be overturned, officials say.