SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — Authorities in a northern California county said an 18-month investigation has led to the seizure of up to 500,000 marijuana plants and more than $10 million in cash.
According to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, the bust also included the confiscation of 6 tons of processed marijuana and a cache of weapons, KTVU reported.
Sgt. Ray Kelly of the sheriff’s office said the bust was the largest illegal growing operation in the Bay Area, the television station reported.
Thus far we have seized 75,260 pounds of marijuana plants from this illegal grow operation. In addition we recovered 12,000 pounds of finished product. The plants have been taken to an incinerator and destroyed by court order. pic.twitter.com/cMOev8Vmdw— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) September 30, 2021
“So many plants, we have to use gas-powered hedge trimmers,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Twitter post on Thursday.
Kelly said the operation involved more than a dozen locations in the East Bay area, including Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward and Castro Valley, KTVU reported.
The deputy said that 500,000 square feet of commercial real estate was used to house the operation, adding that the cost of renting such a large amount of space would cost several million dollars per month, the television station reported.
“Some of the locations had corporate style furniture, break rooms. They had wine, refrigerators with thousand-dollar bottles of wine that they would just sip on,” Kelly told KTVU. “Televisions, vending machines, break rooms.”
Kelly said the average size of each location was as much as 70,000 square feet.
“There’s CO2 being pumped into these rooms, HEPA filters, filtering the air going out so you’re not getting the massive odor,” Kelly told KGO-TV.
A warehouse in San Leandro was raided Thursday morning, the East Bay Times reported. Deputies found 10,000 high-grade marijuana plants, Kelly said. No arrests were made at the site, the newspaper reported.
So many plants we have to use gas powered hedge trimmers. pic.twitter.com/Ix8L9BgNPo— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) September 30, 2021
Kelly said at one site, it took 12 tractor-trailers to transport the seized marijuana to a Central Valley site for destruction, the Times reported. The total amount of plants and materials seized weighed 37.6 tons, he added.
“This is an organization operating outside the law and the protocols of governance of marijuana in California, unsanctioned and making millions in profits,” Kelly said during a news conference. “What’s crazy about this is had they applied for proper permits and fees and paid all their licenses and tax fees, we wouldn’t be here.
“This is one of the largest grows we’ve ever seen in recent memory. It’s a massive operation.”
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