Multiple raids were carried out Wednesday in the Anza Valley, where Riverside County sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement personnel targeted illegal marijuana grows, seizing an estimated 140,800 plants and arresting at least two people.
The sheriff's department estimated the street value of the plants at $189 million. The operation netted more than 3,000 pounds of processed marijauna, 17 rifles and 10 handguns.
Sheriff's Sgt. Albert Martinez said 80 search warrants were served at properties under investigation for illegal cultivation of cannabis. The raids got underway between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., though specific locations were not disclosed.
Officials also did not immediately release details about the arrests.
The unincorporated Anza area is known for pot farms, and some residents have been open about their intent to continue cultivating marijuana despite the county's recent implementation of a comprehensive regulatory framework that requires growers to go through a step-by-step licensing process, which includes background checks.
When the Board of Supervisors held hearings on the licensing regime earlier this year and last fall, several Anza Valley residents complained that it was too onerous.
No commercial grow permits have been approved by the board yet.
The county's Cannabis Regulation Task Force, whose members include deputies, prosecutors, probation agents and officers from several municipal law enforcement agencies, has been conducting raids on a regular basis since last fall, mainly targeting illegal storefront marijuana dispensaries in cities.