Multi-Agency Operation Delivers Blow to Cartel’s Illegal Marijuana Businesses

(KMJ) – During the week of June 7-11th, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Task
Force (SITF) wrapped up an ongoing anti-marijuana operation known as “Operation
Sentinel.” Narcotics detectives with SITF received assistance from members of the
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife,
California National Guard and Cal Cannabis. Together they executed multiple search
warrants, open field eradications and other marijuana related investigations. Their work
lead to the following statistics.

  • 75 locations eradicated
  • 73,738 live marijuana plants destroyed, totaling nearly 32 tons
  • Seizure of close to 3,000 lbs. of processed marijuana packaged for sale
  • 21 jars of concentrated marijuana (honey oil) packaged for sale
  • 37 arrests
  • 10 firearms recovered
  •  One stolen car recovered
  • $9,000 in cash seized

The estimated street value of all marijuana seized was just shy of $250 million.
Cal Cannabis is in process of assessing fines and penalties to land owners responsible
for the illegal commercial marijuana productions. Fines are estimated to total more
than $5 million.

The possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal for recreational use in California,
however, large, unlicensed marijuana operations remain illegal. Due to these
operations being unregulated, they pose dangers to the public and environment. The
majority of locations eradicated in Operation Sentinel were run by Drug Trafficking
Organizations (DTO) who were attempting to commercially cultivate illegal marijuana for
sale. These DTOs included Mexican drug cartels, Chinese organized criminal
operations, Laotian and Cambodian organized crime groups and Outlaw Motorcycle
Gang interests. These groups not only produce and distribute marijuana illegally, but
often deal in other substances such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.

If you are aware of any type of illegal drug activity, report it anonymously by calling the
Narcotics Hotline at 1-800-660-1086 or Email: drugtip@fresnosheriff.org You may also
contact Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-7867, www.valleycrimestoppers.org You will
remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.