Two Day Targeted Operation Against International Marijuana Growers In Sacramento Area
A two-day operation across the Sacramento area has led to more than 100 houses being seized and around 74 properties being searched in an attempt to combat residential marijuana growers backed by foreign funding.
The multi-agency effort spearheaded by the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security and IRS is one of the biggest residential forfeiture efforts to ever have taken place in the history of the nation in this latest attempt to eradicate the criminal enterprises which were operating throughout a number of neighborhoods in Sacramento.
Following President’s Orders
The Attorney General commented on the operation, stating that he was committed to carrying out the President’s orders to make the dismantling of such criminal organizations a key priority, and that he saw civil asset forfeiture as a key tool in the defunding of organized crime to weaken cartels and criminals.
The operation involved searching and filing forfeiture actions against houses which have allegedly been used by Chinese drug traffickers for carrying out criminal activities in an attempt to improve public safety in the Sacramento area.
Community Threat From Foreign-Funded Drug Crime
When overseas funding from China funds criminal organizations in US cities allowing for profit to be made from illegal activities, inevitably communities suffer. The houses which were forfeited during this operation were linked with growing illegal marijuana which would have been distributed nationwide. The purpose of the enforcement operation was to send a very clear message to organized criminals from overseas that they would be the target of any future action.
The criminal organization behind this large-scale operation were receiving millions of dollars from China with which they bought homes in the Sacramento area, turning them into grow houses for marijuana. Search warrants for more than 70 properties which were under suspicion were executed on April 3rd and 4th 2018 while civil forfeiture actions were simultaneously filed against over 100 houses across Sacramento which were under suspicion of being linked with the organization,
A Large-Scale Marijuana Grow Operation
The investigation was carried out into a large number of suspected indoor marijuana grows spread across several Sacramento area residential neighborhoods. There were common elements that led the authorities to the properties in question: Down payments on the properties financed via wires from China’s Fujian Province, the use of common Sacramento realtors, the use of money lenders instead of established banks, and the use of straw buyers. Once they had been purchased, the houses were turned into huge-scale marijuana grows which occupied most (and in some cases, all) of the property and which involved thousands of plants.
Indoor growing on this large scale not only violates state and federal law, it also violates local ordinances and codes across the region. Suspicions were also raised into the properties due to the extraordinarily high amount of energy used every month due to the high watt fans and lighting they employed as part of their operation. The result was that over 61,000 cannabis plants were sized, as well as 200kg of processed cannabis. Unfortunately, the properties used have been left frequently damaged or even completely uninhabitable because of the grow operation.
Sacramento’s Legal Marijuana Operations
This is not the first time that a large-scale crackdown has been carried out into residential marijuana grow operations in the Sacramento region. Since legislation was put in place in September 2017 to limit the number of cannabis plants that could be grown inside a residential property to six, there have been a number of police operations and executions of search warrants in the area which resulted in plants and equipment being seized and hundreds of thousands of Dollars being levied in penalties.
Illegal foreign-funded marijuana grow operations of this type not only present a threat to the neighborhoods in which they are located, they also represent a threat to California’s burgeoning legal marijuana industry, which was passed into legislation on 1 January 2018.
Over 150 cannabis farms currently have been awarded legal operational permits in the capital region as of December 2017, with all of them being located in Yolo County and Sacramento city since these are, so far, the only jurisdictions which have given their approval for commercial cannabis farming. Although outdoor cultivation is permitted in Yolo County, in Sacramento, only indoor cultivation is permitted for commercial marijuana, and this has led to an explosion in the number of warehouses being snapped up by investors and license applications being made to the state authorities.