Los Angeles County, California authorities on Wednesday announced the largest cannabis bust in its history—373,000 plants worth an estimated $1 billion in street value, ABC News reports. The 10-day operation led to 131 arrests and more than 33,000 pounds of harvested cannabis; however, authorities said it represents less than half of the illegal grows in the Antelope Valley—205 of 500.
U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia (R) stressed that the law enforcement action was “not a war on legal cannabis businesses” in the state.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the illegal grows were run by cartels that threaten local residents, steal millions of gallons of water, poison streams and groundwater, and harm wildlife and plants with pesticides. He added that the illegal operations are detrimental to the state’s licensed cannabis operators. Villanueva noted that last year, his agency identified 150 illegal grows in the Valley.
“What we want to do is send a clear message to the cartels and anyone doing illegal operations in the High Desert, your days are over and we are coming for you.”—Villanueva to FOX LA
Villanueva said that last year the California agency seized over 1 ton of cannabis while this bust alone amounted to more than 16 tons. In addition to the arrests, police seized 65 vehicles—including two water trucks—rescued 180 animals, and confiscated thousands of dollars in cash along with several weapons.
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