Calif. deputies seize over 10,000 marijuana plants at illegal grows

Operation Hammer Strike also resulted in the seizure of nearly 1,335 pounds of processed marijuana, three guns and more than $30,000 in cash

By Martin Estacio
Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — Sheriff's deputies recently seized more than 10,000 marijuana plants at illegal grows in San Bernardino County rural areas and arrested and cited 12 people.

The 13 search warrants deputies served on locations in Hesperia, Piñon Hills, Phelan and Landers were part of "week one" of Operation Hammer Strike, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said Friday.

Members of the sheriff's Marijuana Enforcement Team and deputies from several patrol stations conducted the raids Monday through Thursday after receiving complaints about "large outdoor marijuana cultivations in these areas," sheriff's officials said.

In total, authorities said deputies took 10,105 marijuana plants, nearly 1,335 pounds of processed marijuana, three guns and more than $30,000 in cash.

MET investigators also "mitigated one electrical bypass and eradicated 39 greenhouses," according to sheriff's officials.

The 12 people arrested were cited on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis over California's six-plant maximum.

Commercial cannabis activity is prohibited in the county's unincorporated areas. Residents in rural areas have expressed their frustration with the illegal grows as they have grown in numbers in recent years.

Sheriff's officials have attributed illegal cultivation with a rise in water theft, environmental harm and violence.

[RELATED: Survey: 3,615 officers weigh in on the impact of marijuana legalization on policing]

In August, the county Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that increased the fines for people convicted of growing cannabis illegally and the owners of properties on which grows sit.

"The biggest quality of life crime we have here in San Bernardino County is the illegal cultivation of marijuana, particularly in our rural communities," San Bernardino Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a video last month.

Dicus added that the ordinance would assist the sheriff's department, the county District Attorney's Office and county code enforcement "in enforcing and eliminating this quality of life crime, introducing Operation Hammer Strike."

NEXT: 'Policing in an Era of Legal Marijuana' survey results

(c)2021 Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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