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WEED, Calif. — Deputies with the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office seized more than 11,500 marijuana plants during the raid of a "multi-million dollar" black market grow operation on June 3.
Multiple law enforcement agencies joined in the raid last Wednesday morning in the Juniper Valley area of Siskiyou County, located in the southwest area of the rural Mt. Shasta Vista region — a common site for black market grow operations.
Commercial marijuana operations are banned by Siskiyou County ordinance.
During the raid, deputies reportedly found 11,556 marijuana plants and made nine arrests.
"Many of the illegal plants confiscated were maturing with buds, which indicates many of the plants were close to harvest," the Sheriff's Office said. "When plants are harvested finished product is processed, packaged, and typically transported across state lines for illegal sale to a multitude of community buyers throughout the nation."
Sheriff's Office counter-drug teams have seized and destroyed more than 25,000 marijuana plants in the Mt. Shasta Vista and Big Springs areas of the county over the past weeks, the agency said.
According to the agency, the plants seized in this single raid are worth roughly $34.7 million "on the wholesale East Coast illicit drug market" or $104 million sold on the retail market. The Sheriff's Office estimated that all of the plants seized over the previous weeks might equal $151 million retail.
Last year, law enforcement seized almost 61,600 plants and 17,763 pounds of processed marijuana.
"The proliferation of illicit marijuana cultivation sites has endangered people, harmed the environment, and promoted a major interstate drug trafficking industry originating from within the county, as evidenced by this large seizure operation," the Sheriff's Office said. "Dangers associated with the proliferation of marijuana have proven to be particularly harmful to children and the environment."
The agency says it has linked marijuana operations to murders, deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning, suicides, and traffic deaths in the county.
"The illegal marijuana seizures on June 3 once again indicates we are encountering larger grows sites compared to last year," said Sheriff Lopey. "The most recent operation was well-organized and financed, clearly substantiating the fact we are facing organized crime groups intent on circumventing local, state, and in some cases, federal marijuana laws."