Authorities on Wednesday said they were able to record a “historic” recovery of more than $1 billion of marijuana in raids busting illegal marijuana farming in the desert close to Los Angeles.
According to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, curbing illegal marijuana activities in the desert places is dangerous as several of those are linked to Mexican drug cartels as well as other organized crime gangs.
Recovered harvested marijuana plants have reached more than 33, 000 during the more than 10 days operation undertaken by the Sheriff’s deputies, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other connected agencies. In the same operation, 131 were arrested and 65 vehicles were seized in the Antelope Valley.
Added to these, 30 locations were destroyed and 180 animals have been rescued. Officials said that armed gangs are behind the activities, operating several greenhouses and illegalities which was further expanded due to the pandemic.
“What we want to do is send a clear and loud message to the cartels and anyone doing operations in the high desert: ‘Your days are over and we’re coming for you,'” Villanueva warned in a press briefing.
According to him, the raid has wrecked around 40 percent of the 500 spotted in aerial view, or is equal to 205 illegal grows. He said 150 grows were demolished last year in the Antelope Valley.
“This issue is plaguing the Antelope Valley and has the potential to spread throughout Los Angeles County,” county Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.
The sheriff added that the illegal grows to pose a threat to the locals and farmers. He said the toxic chemicals from these farms are harmful to water supplies, FOX News reported.
“The amount of trash, debris, the pesticides, the chemicals that are used go right into the environment, gets into the food chain, affects all our wildlife, our critters,” Villanueva said. “The trash is strewn for miles and the wind carries it throughout the desert and the impact of it is incalculable.”
In January 2018, California approved recreational marijuana sales. The black market, however, survived as heavy legal marijuana taxes drive away consumers who opt to seek better transactions.