Fresno Valley Authorities Take Down ‘The Most Elaborate Illegal Marijuana Grow They’ve Ever Seen’
The massive illegal grow contained more than 20,000 plants, which is one of the most elaborate and sophisticated operations Fresno Valley has ever seen, reported ABC 30.
Authorities were up in the air monitoring two other known grow sites when they found this third operation between the two.
The odor was so dank that the authorities were able to smell the illicit farm from the sky.
“We were about 1,100 feet (elevation) about two miles away and we smelled it in the aircraft,” a sheriff’s sergeant said to ABC 30.
The National Guard came in to partner with deputies, spending most of the weekend dismantling the operation, including 18 greenhouses spread throughout 40 acres.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office reported via Facebook that they’d seized 21,192 plants. Initially, they’d thought there were over 50,000 plants on site.
After emptying just half of one of the greenhouses, the authorities were able to fill multiple truck trailers. The authorities claim the whole operation’s street value may exceed $80 million.
No one was at the property when the raid happened. A narcotics detective told YourCentralValley.com that, for this reason, they think the cartel might be involved.
“We do know who the property owner is and we have a pretty good idea about a few of the people who were living on scene,” the detective explained.
Mounds of dirt that line the property were concealing the massive grow-op. Authorities say they will bury the seized cannabis plants off-site at an undisclosed location after recovering two firearms.
Even though cannabis is legal throughout California, only six plants are allowed in most cases. These plants must be indoors, as well.
The issue with illicit grows such as this is that they are dangerous on several levels. If this was a cartel-run grow operation, the profits would support the violence commonplace among these organizations. Furthermore, without proper regulation, the products are dangerous for consumers.
We have a legal cannabis industry in place. As more large-scale grow operations like this are dismantled, the black market competition that’s draining profits from the legal sector dwindles. However, without taxation and compliance to worry about, illicit operations like this have been able to thrive in this evolving market.