On Wednesday, Los Angeles County officials announced that the local police successfully seized over 16 tons of illegally manufactured and sold cannabis, the worth of which is estimated at around $1 billion.

The authorities described the action as an unprecedented one in the history of the Los Angeles County police department.

According to the information released by Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the operation took ten days and involved the seizure of around 373,000 plants of marijuana and 33,480 pounds of pot.

Particularly targeted by the operation was Antelope County, which belongs to the Mojave Desert.

More than 70 marijuana cultivating greenhouses were found in 205 locations investigated by the police.

Villanueva explained that lots of these facilities were connected with the Mexican drug smuggling groups, along with those from Asia and Armenia.

The Sheriff warned other drug trafficking organizations that the recent operations should show them that their activities are coming to an end.

The operation resulted in the capture of 131 alleged criminals, as well as the seizure of 65 vehicles and 33 firearms.

The police officers reportedly even managed to rescue 84 dogs that criminals used for their purposes.

Crime details

The criminal marijuana activity occurred even though Californian authorities legalized recreational sales of marijuana in 2018.

Republican Representative Mike Garcia, who joined Villanueva at the conference, had recently told reporters that he saw a large number of illegal plants, mostly crowded by illegal immigrants when he took a helicopter tour over the area.

Villanueva added that the marijuana activities caused other sorts of crimes in the areas.

Some of these crimes involve armed threats against nearby citizens and occasional passengers.

Drug cartels allegedly stole water from farmers living in the vicinity, eventually loading it onto tanker trucks and using it to grow plants.

The Sherrif also pointed out that the illegal marijuana planting significantly endangered the local environment, causing the deaths of at least two bears found by officers.

Sheriff Villanueva told reporters that the operation would not have been possible without the aid of 400 people from various agencies and departments.

The organizations that took part in the raid include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the California National Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Kern County Sheriff’s Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.