The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) has uncovered the largest drug bust in its history Tuesday, and officials allege cartels are to blame. LASD seized tens of millions of dollars worth of illegal marijuana growing in dozens of greenhouses in Southern California, according to local news KTLA.
Twenty-three people were arrested in a massive raid across the Antelope Valley, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. Officials are currently bulldozing multiple illegal growing sites this week.
Recreational marijuana became legal in California in 2018, but it has opened up a black market for Mexican drug cartels.
Tuesday's bust follows Antelope Valley residents complaining to local authorities about illegal growing operations stealing the area's water supply, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a news conference. The largest bust yesterday was a 10-acre plot housing more than 70 greenhouses, with an estimated $50 worth of marijuana.
Major Joint-Operation underway in the High Desert to take down Illegal Cartel Operated Marijuana Groves impacting farmers, families, and businesses. We have teamed up with the @usarmy @deahq @vcsheriff @kernsheriff @seblasd to eradicate these illegal Marijuana groves. pic.twitter.com/y21yWExTT9— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) June 8, 2021
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger tweeted images of one of the growing operations from a helicopter. The view is absolutely astonishing, with row after row of greenhouses filled with marijuana.
On June 22, I plan to bring actionable items to the Board of Supervisors based on a comprehensive report to stop these illegal grows, hold perpetrators accountable, and make changes to state law. (3/3) pic.twitter.com/bPMVBliTX2— Supervisor Kathryn Barger (@kathrynbarger) June 8, 2021
Villanueva has yet to assess the total amount of illegal marijuana seized Tuesday, but he said officials measure it in tons. Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said the operation of 500 LASD deputies and DEA agents found $380 million worth of infrastructure and marijuana.
The sheriff said some of the grow operations had unspecified cartels operating the sites and stealing millions of gallons of water from the arid region, currently experiencing an extreme drought. He said these illegal growing operations are dangerous for Antelope Valley's community as it has led to a surge in violent crime.
"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.
Local officials urged the Biden administration to secure the border and contribute necessary funding for police as cartels run wildly on either side.
President Biden's disastrous border policies are chipping away at America's law and order, and securing the border needs to happen quickly before it's too late.