The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office led a successful attempt to seize more than 33,000 lbs of the drug in a process that lasted ten days in the Antelope Valley area north of the city. The operation took more than 400 people from various law enforcement agencies: the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, US Drug Enforcement Agency, California National Guard and the state’s branch of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other local, state and federal agents also assisted with the mission.
The effort to recover the drug prompted 131 arrests and 33,480 lbs of cannabis being taken by authorities, alongside 30 growing sites demolished and 33 guns being found.
At a press conference, Sheriff Alex Villanueva reported that 180 animals were rescued from the site as well as $28,000. He also warned about the potential for organised crime connected to the farm.
“Many of these grows have been directly tied to Mexican drug trafficking organisations and Asian and Aremian organized crime groups,” Sheriff Villanueva told reporters on 6 July. He also pointed the links these places had to violent crime.
The area’s representative, Democrat Eric Garcia, said of the need for the raid: “I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of these illegal nurseries throughout our desert being manned by primarily illegal immigrants. Over 90 per cent of the folks working these farms are indentured servants of some form. They’re stealing our water, in many cases they’re squatting on our land,” according to NBC Los angeles
“I want to be very clear that these are not mom and pop or legal operations that we are fighting,” he continued. “These are large-scale illegal operations in many cases being run by several different cartels right here in our backyard.”