A marijuana production and sales enterprise called “huge” and worth more than $72 million in yearly sales was raided in drug seizures and arrests carried out May 1 across Southern California. Tipped off by Southern California Edison about a possible indoor illegal pot-growing operation in a commercial area, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department narcotics detectives said they launched a probe. A case that began in the San Dimas and Walnut areas spread to other Los Angeles County locations, and led to:
- Seizure of nearly 24,000 marijuana plants
- Raid of 200 to 300 pounds of sales-ready pot
- Total value of the marijuana seized at $12.6 million
- Electrical theft valued at an estimated $2.2 million
- Nine men, alleged drug traffickers, arrested on narcotics and theft charges
“More than 2.2 million dollars in electrical theft was calculated over a 10-year period,” the Sheriff’s Department explained in a news release. “This operation was capable of generating $72.6 million in marijuana sales per year.” One of Southern California’s leading drug manufacturing narcotics detectives, LAPD’s Frank Lyga, told Elements last month that legalization of medicinal use marijuana has led law enforcement to focus more on manufacturing and sales of pot. He called the scale of this cage “huge.” Whether marijuana is addictive is a question that’s made news with the latest research studies released last month. As the movement to legalize pot gains traction in multiple states, so does the science suggesting that recreational use of marijuana, now legal in Colorado and Washington, may come at a cost. A growing number of researchers have concluded that the drug has addictive qualities. The National Institute on Drug Abuse puts a number on it, saying 9 percent of marijuana users will become addicted, and a first-of-its-kind study published in April in the Journal of Neuroscience concludes that the brains of even recreational pot smokers show changes in key regions associated with addiction. Add to this a growing list of psychiatrists who say they treat marijuana addicts all the time, and you’ve got a fairly good case that quitting weed can be a real problem. Against that backdrop came news released this week of the indoor growing and sales operation. The alleged discovery of the large-scale pot growing endeavor came recently with the utility company, and prompted the probe, the Sheriff’s Department explained in its written report. “Detectives investigated, linked and later executed a multi-location search warrant at four locations in Los Angeles with the assistance of other Narcotics Bureau personnel and Community Oriented Policing Team members. A sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operation was discovered.” Smaller pot operations in Walnut, the City of Industry and San Dimas led to the Los Angeles locations, in the 4700 block and 4300 block of Worth Street, the 1600 block of Miller Avenue and the 600 block of Moulton Avenue, sheriff’s officials said.