A raid by law enforcement officials in Shasta County, California, has led to the closure of two illegal cannabis sites and the arrest of seven people.
As local news medium KRCR News reported, search and arrest warrants were served within Anderson and Lakehead by officials of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
The arrest was carried out after suspicions rose that some individuals had started growing cannabis in the areas and were constituting an environmental hazard.
Growing Pot Without License
After extensive searches, the officials confirmed that they found several buildings that housed about 4,300 cannabis plants and another 24 lbs. of processed cannabis at Lakehead on February 11.
Scientists at the CDFW confirmed that they found two unsanctioned diversions and huge garbage piles close to waterways (which indicated that the suspects had applied pesticides to the plants. They also suspected that diesel fuel used by the suspects could have affected the local groundwater.
As for Anderson, CDFW officers found another 2,947 cannabis plants at similar structures and around 150 lbs. of processed cannabis. The structure also housed several hundred gallons of diesel fuel, which officials confirmed had already made their way into the soil and could very well be on its way to the main groundwater and nearby tributaries.
While officials confirmed that they didn’t find any sign of dead wildlife, they committed to keeping inspecting the area for the extended effects of the petroleum spill.
Across the two locations, four men and three women were arrested and detained. CFDW officials have also filed a formal complaint with the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office. It’s charging the suspects with illegal cannabis cultivation and a few other violations of the Health and Safety and Fish and Game Codes.
The officials at the agency said outdoor cultivation of cannabis is outlawed in Shasta County, but there are several licensed indoor structures where the plant is being grown.
David Bess, the Deputy Director, and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division, further explained, “Illegal cannabis grows put compliant cannabis operators at a disadvantage and can be extremely harmful to the environment. Black market cultivation will not be tolerated in California, and those engaging in this behavior should take notice.”
California Sees the Good and the Bad From Legalizing Pot
California has so far been a beacon for other states in the U.S. that are looking to profit from the fledgling cannabis industry by legalizing the use of the plant, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes.
By adopting progressive laws and introducing strict requirements for establishments that would like to sell or grow the plant, the state has seen its coffers from the legalization of cannabis grow exponentially.
Last August, the LA Times reported that the state is the largest cannabis market in the world, and was, at the time, on track to post $3.1 billion in annual licensed cannabis sales.
Legal sales in 2018 amounted to about $2.5 billion, which shows how strong the market is on all fronts. However, the illegal cannabis market is also thriving in Los Angeles. A previous report revealed that the state could see up to a staggering $8.7 billion in illegal sales for 2019.
In November 2019, law enforcement officials across the state seized almost a million cannabis plants in raids conducted throughout 2019.
As reported, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra confirmed that 2019 saw 345 raids and 953,459 marijuana plants seized, up from 254 raids, and 614,267 pot plants in 2018.