ALL NEWS

$1B in illegal pot seized in largest Los Angeles County bust

Jul 8, 2021, 9:01 AM

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva shows one of the 150 illegal marijuana cultivations foun...

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva shows one of the 150 illegal marijuana cultivations found in Puzzle Caynon in Los Angeles County, during a flight reconnaissance, part of the Antelope Valley Marijuana Eradication Operation at a news conference downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Authorities seized tens of millions of dollars worth of illegal marijuana grown in the high desert Tuesday as part of an effort to curtail the black market's grip on Southern California. Twenty-three people were arrested in the crackdown Tuesday in the Antelope Valley, 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, and officials planned to bulldoze 500 illegal grows in the area over the coming days. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The largest illegal marijuana bust in Los Angeles County history — which netted 373,000 plants that would ultimately have been worth $1 billion on the street — eradicated only a fraction of the illicit grows in the Southern California high desert, authorities said Wednesday.

The problem is wide-ranging in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles, officials said, and has grown tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic. Armed cartel members run massive illegal grows, some spanning dozens of greenhouses, that are detrimental to the state’s legal marijuana market.

Multiple law enforcement agencies carried out a 10-day operation in the Antelope Valley last month that resulted in 131 arrests and the seizure of more than 33,000 pounds (14,969 kilograms) of harvested marijuana plants.

Yet the undertaking only demolished 205 illegal grows out of the 500 seen by aerial surveillance in the area. Last year, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said only 150 illegal grows were identified in the Antelope Valley. Scores more exist in other nearby counties.

The cartel members threaten residents and steal millions of gallons of water amid a severe drought, Villanueva said. The growing operations have poisoned streams and groundwater with harmful pesticides and harmed wildlife and plants.

California broadly legalized recreational marijuana sales in January 2018. But the black market is thriving, in part because hefty legal marijuana taxes send consumers looking for better deals.

Officials sought to differentiate between the Antelope Valley operation and the legal market.

“This is not a war on the legal cannabis business in California,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents the area.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

The intersection of 2300 E. Canyon Road in Spanish Fork where two teen girls where seriously hurt a...

Brianna Chavez, KSLTV.com

Plans in place to add traffic signal to Spanish Fork intersection where two girls were hit

UDOT and Spanish Fork officials anticipate construction for a new traffic signal will begin in a few months at an intersection where two girls were left critically injured.

18 minutes ago

One person died after being struck by a northbound Green Line TRAX train at 1700 South....

Emma Keddington

One person dead after being hit by a TRAX train, bus bridge in place

One person has died after a TRAX incident Monday night.

8 hours ago

Deer Creek Reservoir in Wasatch County pictured....

Emma Keddington

Utah Highway Patrol reports “serious” semitruck rollover at Deer Creek Reservoir

CHARLESTON, Wasatch County — One person is unaccounted for after a semitruck traveling southbound on SR-189 lost control and rolled over into Deer Creek Reservoir Monday night, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.  UHP’s Sgt. Cameron Roden said the semi “lost control and jackknifed… Hit the guard rail and went into Deer Creek Reservoir.”  He […]

9 hours ago

Cass Elliot was a member of the singing group the Mamas & the Papas. After the group broke up, she ...

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Fat shaming is not cool

Fat shaming is completely uncool. But it was not always this way.

10 hours ago

one of chad daybell and tammy daybell's children, daughter Emma Murray takes the stand...

Collin Leonard, KSL.com

Chad Daybell daughter says her mother’s health was declining before she died

Chad Daybell's daughter Emma Murrary took the stand as the defense in the Chad Daybell murder trial began presenting its case Monday.

12 hours ago

a helicopter shown, vertiport demonstration tonight...

Sam Herrera

LISTEN: UDOT and USU to conduct vertiport demonstration

The Utah Department of Transportation and Utah State University will conduct the state's first vertiport demonstration Monday night.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

$1B in illegal pot seized in largest Los Angeles County bust