California task force seizes $53M-plus of illicit cannabis in first quarter

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A multiagency task force in California seized more than $53 million worth of illegal cannabis products in the first quarter of 2024.

The seizures by the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF), which was established in 2022, included 54,137 unlicensed cannabis plants and 31,866 pounds of illegal marijuana products, according to a news release.

“As we continue to cultivate a legal marketplace, we’re taking aggressive action to crack down on those still operating in the shadows – shutting down illegal operations linked to organized crime, human trafficking, and the proliferation of illegal products that harm the environment and public health,” Gov. Gavin Newsome, who established the UCETF, said in a statement.

Operations in the recently concluded quarter were conducted in several counties, including Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Joaquin.

Since its inception, the UCETF has seized $371,199,431 in unlicensed cannabis through 236 search warrants, though government estimates are often inflated.

The task force also has eradicated 401,458 plants and seized 139 firearms, the release noted.

State agencies participating in the UCETF include:

  • Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
  • Department of Cannabis Control.
  • Employment Development Department.
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force.
  • California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
  • California State Parks.
  • Department of Tax and Fee Administration.