Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Over $1 billion of marijuana was seized in an Antelope Valley drug bust last month — the largest illegal cannabis enforcement operation in Los Angeles County history.
The joint operation on June 8 resulted in a total of approximately 373,000 plants and 33,480 pounds of harvested marijuana, worth an estimated street value of $1.193 billion, according to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
“What we want to do is send a clear and loud message to the cartels and anyone doing illegal operations in the High Desert, your days are over and we’re coming for you,” Villanueva said Tuesday.
In 2020, there were an estimated 150 illegal cannabis operations in the Antelope Valley, growing to over 500 in 2021, a majority of which are connected to drug cartels, according to the sheriff.
After receiving numerous complaints from residents, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department took action, partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as several local law enforcement agencies.
Cartel members were threatening residents and stealing millions of gallons of water from the already limited supply in the desert, according to Villanueva.
Last month, over 400 personnel in the joint operation served dozens of search warrants at 200 locations across the High Desert.
At the end of the 10-day operation, a total of 131 people were arrested. In addition, 33 firearms $20,000 in cash and several vehicles were seized.
The number of greenhouses at each grow varied from eight to 15. The largest site, which is believed to be the largest illegal cannabis operation in L.A. County, had 74 grow tents spanning over 10 acres.
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