Police in Bakersfield arrested two men after finding more than three tons of weed in the U-Haul van they were driving.
The 6,700 pounds of marijuana, valued at $76 million, was allegedly discovered early July 9 after the driver ran a red light. Two officers pulled the van over at about 5:30 a.m. and smelled a strong odor of cannabis coming from the back, police said.
The officers then searched the car. When they lifted the door at the back of the van, they discovered more than 250 bales of weed, police said.
The Bakersfield Police Department didn’t say where the pot came from or where it was headed. The driver, 22-year-old Daniel Ruiz, and his passenger, 24-year-old Jose Alcarez, were both arrested and face drug charges.
Police called the bust the biggest of its kind in recent years.
Raid Is Latest Big Score
This is just one of several high-profile marijuana raids in California in recent months. In May, police discovered about 1,000 pounds of pot on a San Mateo County beach. The weed came from a beached panga boat, and workers fleeing the beach abandoned it.
Last fall, police arrested 18 people and seized more than 2,000 pounds of cannabis after a panga boat came ashore. Officers stopped a truck during the same bust and found more weed, though the driver and passengers got away.
In 2012, a U.S. Coastguardsman was killed during a drug bust when a panga boat under investigation for smuggling rammed his vessel. Two passengers in the panga were arrested, and weed was found on the boat.
Police have also uncovered several complex tunnel systems connecting Southern California to Mexico, which were used to smuggle large amounts of marijuana.
Still, California is flush with pot despite the raids, and so is most of the rest of the country. That means the raids, however successful in the short term, do little to affect either supply or demand.
This is one reason many of the state’s voters favor legalization. With regulated legal weed, cartels and gangs can be shut out of the industry. And that benefits the state financially, since black market marijuana doesn’t generate tax dollars.