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74 Greenhouses Worth Over $50 Million Bulldozed In Largest Illegal Grow Bust In L.A. County History June 8, 2021 - KHTS
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) uncovered and bulldozed “one of the largest illegal drug operations happening in the backyard of the high deserts of Los Angeles” and made 23 arrests in Lancaster on Tuesday.
After bulldozing the largest illegal marijuana bust in Los Angeles County history in Lancaster on Tuesday, narcotics investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department revealed their plan to put cartels out of business in the high desert.
“We’ve made 23 arrests, seized five firearms, and are now measuring by the tons,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva during the press conference. “One site has 74 greenhouses of marijuana, another property has $50 million worth, which is getting bulldozed as we speak.”
Since 2020, the number of illegal marijuana grows have increased from 150 in the high desert to significantly higher than 500, according to Villanueva.
28 search warrants have been conducted Tuesday alone and is expected to continue at this pace, according to officials.
“We’re going to have over 200 locations that are going to be served and then we are going to continue after that until we get to the total of 500, until there’s not a single marijuana grow standing here in the high desert,” Villanueva said.
The average size per grow includes an average of 15 greenhouses with some outliers of up to 74 greenhouses, according to Villanueva.
“The one we saw today that we bulldozed, that was 74 (greenhouses). It covered probably 10 acres of ground,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva discussed the plethora of negative impacts of illegal marijuana grows, including but not limited to:
Excess of trash debris Violent crime Putting legal, regulated marijuana grows out of business Stealing resources from local farms and as a result, putting them out of business
“We’re 300 miles away from the border and we have one of the largest illegal drug operations happening in the backyard of the high deserts of Los Angeles,” said Congressman Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita.
To combat the issue, Garcia urges President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to secure the border and contribute necessary funding to the police, but for now, the LASD Narcotics Bureau is dedicating its operations to reducing illegal marijuana grows.
“We started this process months back when we were starting to get lots of complaints from residents out here in the high desert and we were getting a lot of complaints of how illegal marijuana grows were impacting life here,” Villanueva said during the conference. “People were getting threatened, water was being stolen from farmers to the point where there are farms going out of business because they cannot afford the water. That’s how much the marijuana operation is impacting the high desert.”
From 2020 alone, illegal marijuana grows have taken over 150 million gallons of water alone from their harvest, according to Villanueva.
Not only impacting crucial farming resources, illegal marijuana grows are linked with violent crime including but not limited to two cartel-related murders in 2020 as well as the discovery of a murder victim found buried in the desert near Lake Los Angeles in 2021, according to Villanueva.
“We have alfalfa farmers, potato and carrot farmers and seeing them going out of business to support illegal marijuana which enriches the cartels is something we’re not going to tolerate,” Villanueva said. “On behalf of the residents here in the high desert, it is our obligation to put an end to this.”
This should tell them that the plant needs to be taken completely off EVERY list and let free for anyone to do anything they want with it. Grow it beside the roads, gardens, high rise buildings, everywhere!
I don't know how they were "stealing" the water but that seems like the worst crime the growers were doing. I had thought legit farmers trucked in water in big tanks, but I guess they don't guard them 24-7. But maybe the government could have dismantled the greenhouses and reused them instead of bulldozing them. Photo-ops and 'sending the message' were probably more important