Los Angeles (AP), the largest illegal marijuana bust in Los Angeles County history, has cut down 373,000 plants, ultimately worth $ 1 billion on the streets, and illegally cultivated them in the high deserts of Southern California. Authorities said they had eradicated only a small portion of the desert. Wednesday.
The problem is widespread in Antelope Valley, north of Los Angeles, and has grown tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. Members of the armed cartel carry out large-scale illegal cultivation across dozens of greenhouses, harmful to the state’s legitimate marijuana market.
Law enforcement agencies conducted a 10-day operation in the Antelope Valley last month, resulting in the arrest of 131 people and the seizure of more than £ 33,000 (14,969 kilograms) of harvested marijuana plants.
Still, of the 500 seen in the area’s aerial surveillance, only 205 were illegally demolished. Last year, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that only 150 illegal cultivations were confirmed in Antelope Valley. Scores are more present in other nearby counties.
According to Villanueva, cartel members threaten residents in a severe drought and steal millions of gallons of water. Growing businesses pollute streams and groundwater with harmful pesticides, harming wildlife and plants.
California widely legalized the sale of recreational marijuana in January 2018. However, the black market is thriving, partly because high legal marijuana taxes are forcing consumers to trade better.
Authorities sought to distinguish between Antelope Valley’s business and the statutory market.
“This is not a war against California’s legal cannabis business,” said US Congressman Mike Garcia, who represents the region.