Home Posts During A Record-breaking Drug Bust, $1 Billion In Illegal Marijuana Was Confiscated.
During A Record-breaking Drug Bust, $1 Billion In Illegal Marijuana Was Confiscated.
Marijuana

During A Record-breaking Drug Bust, $1 Billion In Illegal Marijuana Was Confiscated.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities said Wednesday that the largest illegal marijuana bust in Los Angeles County history, which netted 373,000 plants worth $1 billion on the black market, eliminated only a fraction of the illegal grows in the Southern California high desert.

According to officials, the problem is widespread in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles and has grown significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. Armed cartel members run massive illegal grows, some spanning dozens of greenhouses, that are harmful to the state's legal marijuana market.

Last month, a 10-day operation in the Antelope Valley resulted in 131 arrests and the seizure of more than 33,000 pounds (14,969 kilograms) of harvested marijuana plants by multiple law enforcement agencies.

Despite this, the project only demolished 205 illegal grows out of 500 seen by aerial surveillance in the area. Last year, Sheriff Alex Villanueva stated that only 150 illegal grows were identified in the Antelope Valley, with scores more in other nearby counties.

During a severe drought, cartel members have threatened residents and stolen millions of gallons of water, according to Villanueva, and their growing operations have poisoned streams and groundwater with harmful pesticides, harming wildlife and plants.

California legalized recreational marijuana sales in January 2018, but the black market is thriving, in part because high legal marijuana taxes drive customers to seek out lower-cost alternatives.

The Antelope Valley operation and the legal market were differentiated by officials.

“This is not a war on California’s legal cannabis industry,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents the district.

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