Nearly $190 million street-value plants destroyed

Riverside County’s Department of Waste Resources’ heavy equipment dozer buries the illegal marijuana seized last week. The marijuana was then covered with refuse. Photo courtesy Corinne Awad, Riverside County Department of Waste Resources

On Wednesday, June 5, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and several allied agencies, “conducted an operation in the Anza Valley (Anza, Aguanga, Sage)” area.
The operation focused on illegal marijuana cultivation. But it also was a response to comments and complaints from Anza Valley residents. They have expressed concerns about many locally committed crimes, such as homicide, theft, robbery, kidnapping, as well as the theft of utilities, all associated with the illegal cannabis groves.
The Hemet Sheriff’s Station’s Investigations Bureau investigated these illegal marijuana cultivation sites and on June 5, spearheaded a multi-agency effort to address the community’s anxiety.
A total of about 700 law enforcement personnel assisted in serving search warrants at more than 118 illegal marijuana cultivation locations within the 265 square miles of Anza Valley.
During the operation, eight individuals were arrested. In addition, the Sheriff’s Department reported that the search warrants resulted in the confiscation of:
• 140,877 marijuana plants (estimated at $189 million street value)
• 3,037 pounds of processed marijuana
• 17 rifles and 10 handguns
• 70 tons of plants disposed
After the searches and confiscations, a non-law enforcement agency contributed to disposing of the illegal plants. The county Department of Waste Resources disposed of and immediately buried the marijuana eradicated from more than 100 illegal grow locations in the Anza Valley.
The Lamb Canyon Landfill in Beaumont served as the burial location for the seized cannabis. A crew was on hand to ensure all of the seized material was properly disposed of at a special drop site on the active pad. The seized marijuana was immediately buried and refuse was immediately piled on top.
In total, 10 separate loads of seized marijuana were buried, tipping the scales at nearly 70 tons of material.
The Board of Supervisors has not yet approved any permits for the sale or cultivation of cannabis within Riverside County.
Other agencies assisting the Sheriff’s Department were the San Diego County Sheriff, Orange County Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Kern County Sheriff, Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Riverside Police, Hemet Police, Murrieta Police, Cathedral City Police, Riverside County Gang Task Force, PACT Team, Coachella Valley Narcotic Task Force, California Fish and Wildlife, FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Cal Fire, American Medical Response, Riverside County Animal Services, California Water Board and County Code Enforcement. The California Army National Guard contributed its equipment and vehicles in the transportation and destruction of marijuana.