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Illegal marijuana operations sprout up in the High Desert

Improvements in growing techniques have led to a dramatic decline in quality of a life in the high desert, where illegal operations have taken hold and multiplied.

There is a danger in the desert you might not be aware of. Illegal marijuana operations are sprouting up, some spanning 40 acres or more in the high desert. These are multi-million dollar operations, many protected by armed guards.

Marijuana from illegal indoor grows used to sell for twice as much as the product raised outdoors, though not anymore. But improvements in growing techniques have led to a dramatic decline in quality of a life in the high desert, where these illegal operations have taken hold and multiplied.

The aerial view of the high desert is astounding.

“Right here you got one there, one there, one there and here, here, here, and here. You can’t throw a baseball without hitting one,” said Sgt. Jon Anderson, pilot with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

What was once a beautifully maintained five-bedroom, four-bath house was turned into a large-scale grow operation that posed a danger to the entire neighborhood. Carolyn Johnson reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on June 10, 2021.

The helicopter flew over a brazen display of greenhouse after greenhouse, which law enforcement describe as marijuana operations big and small, dotting the desert land of San Bernardino and LA counties.

“I mean it’s like a form of land looting,” said Assemblymember Tom Lackey, (R) 36th District. He and Assemblymember Thurston “Smitty” Smith, (R) 33rd District, are determined to crack down on what they see as a crisis.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department invited the I-team to tour the region with them by helicopter. Assemblymember Smith pointed out the devastation visible from the air.

“Right here, you can see where they graded all the dirt to build a berm around it,” he explained. “Literally hundreds of them are popping up all over the place,” said Assemblymember Lackey. “It’s an environmental threat, it’s also a threat to the legitimate business of cannabis.”

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Carolyn Johnson on NBC 4 News Los Angeles

Published: June 17, 2021

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