California law enforcement officials this week announced two days worth of raids at several locations that produced the largest illegal marijuana grow operation in the history of the San Francisco Bay Area.
As of Thursday, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office estimated that deputies had seized roughly 100,000 marijuana plants, 12,000 pounds of cannabis flower, about $10 million in cash and 37.6 tons of plants and materials from at least a dozen sites where search warrants were executed, The (San Jose) Mercury News reported.
The warrants and raids were the result of an 18-month-long investigation, and Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. Ray Kelly predicted the busts – and resulting arrests of several suspects – would have little to no impact on California’s thriving illicit cannabis market.
“There is nothing to stop them from doing it again,” he said. “It’s such a lucrative business.”
The history-making bust is one of several conducted already this year in California.
In June, authorities uncovered another huge unlicensed marijuana grow operation in Los Angeles County that was worth an estimated $1 billion.
Members of California’s legal marijuana market cite the underground market as one of the state’s biggest hurdles to success, but law enforcement officials say their hands are largely tied when it comes to effective crackdown efforts.