A large cartel-run marijuana farm was destroyed by multiple California law enforcement agencies in Antelope Valley, Tuesday.
The site had 74 greenhouses spreading over 10 acres of land, and the L.A. County Sheriff’s directed more than 400 personnel to bulldoze and clear out the area.
“This has been a problem that’s been going on in our back yard for some time,” Rep. Mike Garcia said in a press conference Tuesday. “This is what happens when you don’t secure the border. This is what happens when you don’t value law enforcement. We’re 300 miles away from the border and have one of the largest illegal drug operations happening… in the high deserts of Los Angeles.”
The department served 45 search warrants in the area Tuesday with plans to serve more than 500 warrants in the future.
“We had to think big,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. “We started this process months back when we were starting to get lots of complaints from residents here in the ‘High Desert.'”
Sheriff Villanueva expressed additional concern over the cannabis farms, saying the cartel sites were allegedly linked to two 2020 murders in the area.
“Violent crime is part of the trade for the cartels and has been associated with these illegal grows,” Sheriff Villanueva said.
Villanueva added that cartel members were stealing water from local farmers, forcing many of them out of business.
“Today we have spoken with farmers… armed cartel members up here in the High Desert stealing water in the middle of the night has become a common site,” Villanueva said.
The “High Desert” became a destination for these marijuana growers, as at least 150 illegal farms were identified by the Sheriff’s Dept. in 2020, a number that grew to 500 in 2021, with an average of 15 greenhouses per farm.