Sheriff’s deputies in Southern California seized almost $7 million worth of cannabis plants, loose pot, and edibles during a raid on a Canyon Country strip mall in October.
Narcotics investigators at the Marijuana Dispensary Task Force of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a raid on a cannabis grow site in Canyon Country Oct. 19. After serving a search warrant on the property, officers found a large indoor cultivation operation, department officials said in a news release.
The plants were growing in several suites inside the otherwise shuttered strip mall, which contained an elaborate cultivation setup including high-powered lights, an expansive ventilation setup, and a filtering system, the department said.
Police tipped off by a resident
The raid followed a tip from a resident who reported possible drug-related activity outside the mall. After searching the property, sheriff’s deputies removed 2,484 marijuana plants, along with about 200 pounds of processed cannabis, 50 pounds of THC-infused food, and a large amount of cash.
Investigators said the plants were worth about $6.2 million, while the dried bud and edibles would bring about $500,000 on the street. The growers also apparently spent a great deal of money on air-conditioning and an odor-control system used throughout the mall.
Sheriff’s officers arrested three men at the grow site following the search. One of the men, George Tunis, 28, of Los Angeles was charged with felony possession of cannabis with intent to sell it.
Tunis was booked and processed in Santa Clarita Valley and released on bond. Sheriff’s officials said the investigation would continue, but they did not immediately identify the other two suspects.
Voters expected to legalize recreational use on Election Day
Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, and voters are likely to legalize recreational pot in November. But commercial grows remain illegal, and police in Southern California frequently target illegal marijuana gardens.
The October bust is far from a record-breaker for California, a state that once saw federal agents uproot a cannabis field valued at $1 billion. But $7 million is still a relatively large haul, even for the Los Angeles area.
If voters pass Proposition 64 on Nov. 8, adults 21 and older would be allowed to buy, possess, and use up to an ounce of marijuana for any use. They could also grow up to six plants at home. But unlicensed cannabis gardens would still be subject to police raids and arrests.
Leave a comment below: Do you think legalization will lead to fewer illegal marijuana grows in California? Why?