California authorities seize $1 billion of illegal marijuana

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Los Angeles County authorities announced the seizure of the largest illegal crop of marijuana in state history, worth an estimated $1 billion.

According to The Associated Press, L.A. sheriff’s deputies seized 373,000 marijuana plants and 33,480 pounds of cannabis flower, which have a combined value of about $1.2 billion on the illicit market.

The seizure is the result of a 10-day law enforcement investigation that culminated in search warrants being served June 8 on 200 facilities in the Antelope Valley area, north of Los Angeles.

The raids were a joint operation between the L.A. sheriff’s department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and multiple other local law enforcement agencies, the Valley Post News reported.

There were 131 arrests made in connection with the raids, and 33 firearms and $20,000 in cash was also seized.

The 200 facilities were all run by “cartel members,” the Valley Post News reported, and L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said criminals were stealing ground water and threatening local residents.

“What we want to do is send a clear and loud message to the cartels and anyone doing illegal operations in the High Desert, your days are over and we’re coming for you,” Villanueva said.