In the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 8, 2021, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration conducted a collaborative operation to take down multiple illegal marijuana grows in Unincorporated Lancaster.
As a result of information received through public calls for service and multiple complaints from residents in Unincorporated Lancaster, the largest operation in the history of the Sheriff’s Department was developed to put an end to the hundreds of illegal marijuana cultivations in the Antelope Valley. Over 400 personnel from multiple Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Bureaus, the National Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and members from the Kern County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department were part of the operation.
In the year 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Narcotic Bureau Detectives identified 150 illegal marijuana cultivations during a flight reconnaissance. This year, the number increased to over 500. The cultivations grew in size as well, the average size per grow was eight greenhouses and now the average is 15. Today, a 75 greenhouse grow that covered 10 acres of ground was bulldozed. Violent crime is also directly linked to illegal cultivations. Armed cartel members stealing water in the middle of the night from farmers and residents has become a common sight.
“We’re going to send a loud and clear message to all the cartels and illegal operations, ‘your days here are over and you need to pack up and leave or we’re going to find you,’” said Sheriff Villanueva.
So far, 23 arrests were made, 5 firearms were seized, 2 water trucks were recovered, and marijuana worth millions of dollars was seized from greenhouses. Also, during the operation, seven mixed breed dogs including four puppies were recovered by LASD personnel and are now under the care of Reversed Rescue, a non-profit dog rescue organization.
The success of this operation was possible because of the wide range of agencies that collaborated and thanks to the information collected from countless investigation hours and tips provided by courageous people who trust law enforcement.