LANCASTER – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday a joint operation to take down multiple illegal marijuana grows in the Antelope Valley resulted in more than 100 arrests and the destruction of several thousands of pounds of marijuana products.
The Marijuana Eradication Team — which consists of the LASD, the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — served 116 marijuana cultivation-related search warrants in the Antelope Valley in the first four months in 2022, according to the sheriff’s department.
The search warrants resulted in 100 misdemeanor arrests and seven felony arrests. Authorities also seized 101,090 marijuana plants and 53 firearms, and 14,980 pounds of harvested marijuana was destroyed.
“Continuing in the spring of 2022 … narcotics investigators conducted aerial reconnaissance with the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force,” according to the LASD “They identified 350 outdoor cultivation sites in the Antelope Valley, down from over 750 locations in 2021. This reduction in cultivation sites is directly related to increased enforcement efforts in the Antelope Valley.”
Search warrants were served at 80% of the identified cultivation sites, and the LASD anticipates warrants will be served at the reamaining 20% by fall 2022.
LASD Sheriff Alex Villanueva illegal dispensaries “are a source of extreme amounts of violence.”
“You have robberies, you have murders that we’re handling,” Villanueva said. “Other agencies have to handle in the basin, and they’re all tied to the cash trade down in these illegal dispensaries. In fact, illegal dispensaries outnumber the legal one 50 to 1. That will give you the size of the magnitude of the problem that we*re handling right here,”
LASD Narcotics investigators created the email address MarijuanaTips@lasd.org in July 2021, and anyone who can provide information to detectives investigating marijuana cultivation cases was encouraged to contact via email.
Sources share some of Villanueva’s challengers in the Sheriff’s election are courting illegal dispensaries for support under the guise of “little to no enforcement” of laws prohibiting them from operating if elected.