100,000 cannabis plants seized from historic San Francisco Bay bust
San Francisco Bay Area law enforcement seized more than 100,000 cannabis plants from more than a dozen unauthorized grow sites last week, ending a ‘smuggling times’ operation. moderns ”in a series of raids that lasted two days. The massive bust carried out by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in the East Bay resulted in the confiscation of millions of dollars in cash and cannabis plants representing tens of millions of potential illicit sales of marijuana, according to estimates by law enforcement.
“This is an organization operating outside the law and protocols of marijuana governance in California, unauthorized and making millions in profits,” noted Ray Kelly, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Information Officer.
Kelly said the illicit cultivation operations, which he described as “high tech” and “very sophisticated”, were “driven by extreme profit and greed.” It was a pure seizure of money by the organizers of this company. Several suspects were arrested during the raids, although authorities did not release the names of those arrested.
18-month investigation led to raids in the Bay Area
More than 100 Sheriff’s Office staff and Alameda County Narcotics Task Force agents were involved in an 18-month investigation that culminated in last week’s raids, in which search warrants were issued at 18 sites in East Oakland, Hayward, Castro Valley and San Leandro. The investigation was opened by narcotics detectives from the Sheriff’s Department after receiving intelligence about an illegal marijuana grow operation. The raids yielded around six tons of the pot as well as Rolex watches and other jewelry.
“We seized 12,000 pounds of processed and harvested marijuana product ready to be released for sale,” Kelly said.
At a cultivation site raided an Oakland warehouse, MPs seized up to $ 10 million in cash as well as evidence of a money laundering operation. Kelly noted that Bay Area growers could have avoided police action if they had been authorized by the state.
“What’s crazy is that if they had applied for the proper permits and fees and paid all their licenses and taxes, we wouldn’t be here,” he said at a press conference in the Oakland warehouse on Thursday, where he showed a bag he said contained $ 1 million in seized cash. “This is one of the biggest growths we’ve seen in recent memory. It’s a massive operation.
“These people don’t do that,” Kelly said. News week, referring to obtaining the necessary permits to grow cannabis legally. “They work the same as the smuggling operations of the 1920s. They are very sophisticated, very organized. They have invested millions of dollars in their infrastructure. We estimate that they have about half a million square feet of grow space that they use. “
Kelly said operators of illicit cannabis grow sites would buy warehouses and other buildings, outfitting them with sophisticated grow equipment, including computers and timers. The suspects would pay plumbers and electricians to install the equipment and hire growers, tailors and transporters to produce and distribute the cannabis.
12 trucks full of pot in smoke
The sheriff’s spokesman said 12 truckloads of cannabis semi-trailers had been transported to a site in California’s Central Valley for cremation. He added that the required taxes had not been paid on cannabis sales and that forensic accountants would be involved in the ongoing investigation. In a social media post on Wednesday, the sheriff’s office wrote that it would take several days to process the sites with search warrants and eliminate contraband.
“This organized and sophisticated network of individuals was making tens of millions of dollars in profit and avoiding California [marijuana regulations]The sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. “We currently estimate that we have seized over 100,000 plants and over $ 10,000,000 in cash. In addition, there are millions of dollars in infrastructure, equipment, lighting, generators and supplies used to facilitate cultivation. “
Kelly said at least seven people have been arrested in connection with the operation so far, and more arrests may take place. In addition to offenses involving the illegal cultivation of marijuana and money laundering, detectives investigate violations of environmental laws.
“The environmental impact of these locations is worrying,” he said. “We’re talking about fertilizers, chemicals, chemicals known to cause cancer.”
Despite the arrests and seizures, Kelly said the potential profits from illicit cannabis were so high that he doubted the operation would have as much of a deterrent effect.
“Nothing prevents them from starting over,” he said. “It’s such a lucrative business.