The Los Angeles County marked a historic bust of more than $1 billion worth of illegal marijuana in areas connected to Mexican drug cartels.

Despite the large amount, authorities said the seized marijuana was only a fraction of the illicit grows in the region, Fox News reported.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva made the announcement in a press conference held on Wednesday, July 7, in which Villanueva detailed the 10-day operation that the officers underwent.

The operation confiscated about 373,000 marijuana plants and some 33,480 pounds of harvested pot with a value of nearly $1.2 billion, NBC Los Angeles reported.

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Fox News reported that the authorities made at least 131 arrests during the course of operation in Antelope Valley, located in the north of Los Angeles. At least 65 vehicles were also confiscated, and at least 180 animals were rescued.

Villanueva noted that they wanted to send a message to the drug cartels and anyone who operates in the high desert that their days are over, and they are coming after the operators of the illegal marijuana-growing areas.

Los Angeles Officials Discovers Marijuana Growing Areas Tied to Mexican Drug Cartels

Villanueva noted that the proliferation of illegal marijuana in the area of Mojave Desert posed dangers as many of the illegal marijuana farms in the area were connected to Mexican drug cartels and other organized crime groups.

California Representative Mike Garcia echoed what Villanueva said as he described the discovered areas during the operations as a large-scale illegal operation that different drug cartels ran in their land.

Authorities noted that armed groups ran the illegal operations in multiple greenhouses, and they expanded on the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Villanueva said that about 150 illegal marijuana-growing areas were identified in Antelope Valley. This year, an additional 500 were discovered by the officials.

The operation held by the Los Angeles officials demolished around 205 illegal grows of marijuana, which amounted to 40 percent of the 500 that were discovered this year.

"I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of these illegal nurseries throughout our desert being manned by primary illegal immigrants," said Garcia, adding that 90 percent of the folks who serve in the said farms were servants.

Implications of the Illegal Marijuana Growing Areas in Los Angeles County

Officials underscored that illegal marijuana grows in remote areas can affect the environment and the farmers and residents in the area.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger noted that the amount of trash, debris, pesticides, and chemicals go to the environment and enters the food chain.

"The trash is strewn for miles and the wind carries it throughout the desert and the impact of it is incalculable," Barger noted.

Apart from the environment, Villanueva noted that crime has also grown in the growing sites of marijuana, stating the murder victims in July of the previous year "discovered adjacent to an area of illegal marijuana growth." 

In the press conference, the Los Angeles Sheriff further noted that another murder victim was recently found buried in the desert of Los Angeles, where the suspect was connected to an illegal marijuana growth in Lake Los Angeles.

Los Angeles authorities said that illegal marijuana growers steal millions of gallons of water through illegal wells or take them under cover of night from the wells maintained by local alfalfa, potato, and carrot farmers.

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Written by: Joshua Summers

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