More than a dozen facilities were raided this week by the Alameda County, California 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 pounds of extracts, and over $10 million in cash.
All in all, over 37 tons of plants were seized in multiple raids that span four East Bay cities. In one warehouse in San Leandro, police had to cut through the densely packed 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 believe there were over half a million plants ranging from seedlings to full-sized plants. Aside from the grow rooms, the 12,000 pounds of processed product was also found ready for distribution, which would’ve fetched a street price of over $40 million. $10 million in cash assets was also seized.
The entire series of operations were using state-of-the-art infrastructure, though they were using illegal wiring, generators, HEPA air filters, and carbon filters that kept the operation from being discovered for so long.
Everything was being grown illegally to avoid taxation and cannabis regulation. Sargent Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department said, “They’re basically circumventing the legalized system to be involved in the cannabis industry, and they’re doing that strictly for profit.” However, the operations may have allegedly ended up in the legal retail market and sold at local dispensaries.
An operation this large is dangerous on multiple levels. For starters, if these products were ending up on the shelves at dispensaries, consumers would be at risk of being exposed to an untested, unregulated product. Further, the large operation was using toxic fertilizers and water that was spilling into the local drainage and creating health concerns.
While only seven people have been arrested so far, more arrests are expected. Everyone involved is facing charges from both the state of California and the federal government, including weapons, drugs, money laundering, and tax evasion. Investigators also believe that the operation has been in contact with overseas connections, so this bust may be going down in history as one of the largest pot raids the country has ever seen.