More than a dozen facilities were raided this week by the Alameda County, Calif., Sheriff’s Office in what has become a historical cannabis bust in the history of the East Bay area. Police discovered over 500,000 plants, 12,000 books of extracts and over $10 million in cash.
In total, more than 37 tons of plants were seized in several raids that passed through four East Bay towns. At a warehouse in San Leandro, police had to cut through densely populated grow rooms with a chainsaw. Seventeen other warehouses were also raided in Oakland, Hayward and Castro Valley. So far, at least seven people have been arrested.
Between the 500,000 square foot warehouse spaces, authorities estimate there were more than half a million plants ranging from seedlings to full-size plants. Besides the grow rooms, the 12,000 pounds of processed produce were also found ready for distribution, which would have cost over $40 million. $10 million in cash was also seized.
The entire series of operations used state-of-the-art infrastructure, even though they used illegal cables, generators, HEPA air filters and carbon filters that prevented the discovery of the operation for so long.
Everything was grown illegally to avoid taxes and cannabis regulations. Sargent Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department said, “They’re basically bypassing the legalized system to get involved in the cannabis industry, and they’re doing it strictly for profit.” However, the operations could have ended up in the legal retail market and sold at local dispensaries.
An operation of this magnitude is dangerous on several levels. For starters, if these products end up on dispensary shelves, consumers risk being exposed to an untested and unregulated product. Additionally, the large operation used toxic fertilizers and water that flowed into the local drainage and created health problems.
While only seven people have been arrested so far, more arrests are expected. All involved face charges from the State of California and the federal government, including weapons, drugs, money laundering and tax evasion. Investigators also believe the operation was in contact with overseas connections, so this bust could go down in history as one of the biggest pot raids the country has ever seen.
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