The operation, which began on June 8, resulted in 22 felony arrests, 109 misdemeanor arrests and 19 arrests by anti-water theft teams, officials said. More than 200 locations have received search warrants. Almost 375,000 marijuana plants and 33,480 pounds of harvested marijuana were seized, along with 65 vehicles, 180 animals and $ 28,000.
Officials say they believe international cartels are behind the large-scale illegal marijuana farms.
“We are talking about the cartels,” Lancaster, Calif., Mayor Rex Parris said at a press conference Wednesday. “We’re not talking about moms and people selling marijuana that they’ve grown in their backyard. These are the cartels. We are very close to driving on the highway and seeing bodies hanging from overpasses. This is what is coming. ”
As California legalized theof marijuana in 2018, illegal cultivation of the crop increased in the state. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office of Narcotics detectives identified more than 500 illegal marijuana crops in 2021, up from 150 identified in 2020, according to a June statement. Detectives found that the average size per crop on farms increased to 15 greenhouses, from eight per farm the year before.
“What we want to do is send a clear and strong message to the cartels and to anyone carrying out an illegal operation in the high desert: your days are over and we come for you,” said the Los Angeles County Sheriff. , Alex Villanueva.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said impacts of illegal cartel cultivation of marijuana include water theft, human trafficking, pollution and threats to safety and security .
“This illegal activity has an impact on the quality of life of residents and businesses and if left untreated it will have lasting and devastating effects in the region,” said Barger.
She called on the public prosecutor to prosecute those arrested during the operation. Villanueva said he will publicly share the district attorney’s prosecution decision once it is made public.
“It’s a problem that is rampant and will continue to be rampant, if we don’t make it very uncomfortable and one way to make it uncomfortable is to file a lawsuit,” Barger said.