The California drug enforcement group tasked with cracking down on illegal cannabis operations seized more than $100 million in unlicensed cannabis products for the third quarter, state regulatory officials reported this month.
The period from July through September also marked a large haul in illegal firearms, with the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce reporting Oct. 5 a 363% increase from the previous quarter with 69 taken as evidence.
Within the “Emerald Triangle” deemed the hotbed of cannabis cultivation in northern California, the task force singled out busts in Mendocino County in August that amounted to 43,238 cannabis plants eradicated, valued at more than $45 million.
Illegal outdoor cultivation sites were served with 25 search warrants in which 7,516 pounds of unprocessed cannabis flower was seized. Of the 69 firearms taken in, 40 came from these drug busts.
Bill Jones, law enforcement chief for the state Department of Cannabis Control, said the task force has concentrated on large outdoor illegal growing operations.
Jones explained the law enforcement group collects intelligence beyond the quarterly haul of illegal guns and illegal product.
Focusing on larger targets, the taskforce achieved similar results from previous quarter through serving 35 percent fewer search warrants
CALIFORNIA – Continuing to protect public safety, safeguard natural resources, and advance the integrity of the legal cannabis market, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) seized more than $101 million in illegal cannabis during the third quarter of 2023. During enforcement operations, UCETF seized 69 crime-linked firearms — a 363% increase compared to the previous quarter.
Among the highlights from the last quarter were seizures of almost 100,000 cannabis plants and over 61,000 pounds of illegal cannabis. These numbers were accomplished despite serving 35 percent less search warrants in the quarter.
“For the last three months UCETF has been focused on larger, outdoor cannabis operations that posed a significant threat to the environment and public safety” stated Bill Jones, Chief of the Law Enforcement Division for DCC. “Many of these illegal cannabis operations are linked to organized crime, and in addition to threatening the environment and communities, the products these operations pose a direct threat to consumer health and the stability of the legal cannabis market.”
The results of UCETF’s Q3 2023 enforcement actions are listed below:
|UCETF Operations||Q3 2023||Q2 2023|
|Search Warrants Served||60||92|
|Pounds of Cannabis Seized||61,415.75||66,315.01|
|Retail Value of Cannabis Products Seized||$101,349,657||$109,277,688.94|
|Cannabis Plants Eradicated||98,054||120,970|
“Over the past quarter, UCTEF conducted several highly coordinated operations that will disrupt the illegal supply chain and improve consumer and public safety. The task force focused on rural areas where illegal cultivators have been conducting unlicensed operations,” said Nathaniel Arnold, Acting Chief of Enforcement for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “These enforcement numbers represent the hard work and commitment from our multiagency teams. I applaud our officers and partner agencies who worked tirelessly to identify these clandestine operations and provide a good measure of public and consumer safety.”
Since inception, UCETF has seized $295,284,220.94 in unlicensed cannabis through the serving of 203 search warrants. The taskforce has also eradicated 277,314 plants and seized 101 firearms.
Created in 2022, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce has been charged by the Governor to better align state efforts and increase cannabis enforcement coordination between state, local and federal partners. UCETF’s enforcement actions protect consumer and public safety, safeguard the environment, and deprive illegal cannabis operators and transnational criminal organizations of illicit revenue that harms consumers and undercuts the regulated cannabis market in California.
The taskforce is co-chaired by the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and coordinated by the Homeland Security Division of Cal OES. The taskforce includes more than two dozen local, state, and federal partners working together to disrupt the illegal cannabis market.