FRESNO COUNTY - During the week of June 7-11, 2021, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Task Force (SITF), along with California state law enforcement officers, wrapped up an ongoing anti-marijuana operation known as “Operation Sentinel.”
“This operation resulted in the seizure of illegal cannabis, weapons, and the arrests of dozens of individuals,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “This type of law enforcement effort can be dangerous but is done to protect the public, the environment, and licensed cannabis cultivators.”
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 throughout Fresno County.
Throughout the investigations:
- 75 locations were eradicated
- 73,738 live marijuana plants were destroyed, totaling nearly 32 tons
- Nearly 3,000 pounds of processed marijuana packaged for sale were seized
- 21 jars of concentrated marijuana (honey oil) packaged for sale were seized
- 37 people were arrested
- 10 firearms were seized
- One stolen car was recovered
- $9,000 in cash was seized
The estimated street value of all the marijuana seized amounted to nearly $250 million.
Cal Cannabis will assess fines and penalties to land owners responsible for the illegal commercial marijuana productions. Fines are estimated to total more than $5 million.
According to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office: The majority of locations eradicated in Operation Sentinel were run by Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) that 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.