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Garcia, Obernolte, McCarthy, & Calvert Call on Attorney General to Act on Illegal Marijuana Grows

May 14, 2021

Today, Representative Mike Garcia (CA-25), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Jay Obernolte (CA-08), and Ken Calvert (CA-42) led a letter from the California Republican Congressional Delegation to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the dangerous increase of illegal marijuana grows in southern Californian.

The letter comes due to an alarming escalation in dangerous criminal activity across Southern California related to illegal marijuana grow operations. 

“We have heard from our constituents of heinous incidents of intimidation, coercion, and violence being used by illegal growers to ensure that their operations continue unimpeded,” the lawmakers wrote. “There have also been multiple homicides at these grow sites as opposing criminal syndicates engage in turf wars. In September of 2020, seven bodies were discovered at an illegal grow in Riverside County, and, just recently, two bodies were discovered at another site.”

In addition to menacing Californians, the criminals operating the illegal grows are damaging public lands and stealing resources from residents.  

“It’s estimated that at the end of 2020, illegal marijuana grows were illegally consuming between 11 and 36 million liters of water daily,” the lawmakers wrote. “Water is already a precious resource in California, we cannot allow these illegal operations to exacerbate the problem further.”

The vast majority of illegal grows are operated by illegal immigrants who have either entered the country illegally or have overstayed visas. Many of the individuals arrested at these marijuana grows have been discovered to be victims of human trafficking, forced into servitude at these grow sites. The sharp increase in illegal grow operations, which swelled as much as 300% in some areas over the last year, is a result of the dangerous combination of lack of law enforcement and lack of border security. 

“The growth is fueled in part by the knowledge that criminals who are arrested will ultimately face no consequences,” the lawmakers wrote. “We have heard from local, state, and federal law enforcement who are frustrated that their hard work is routinely rendered pointless by prosecutors who refuse to charge offenders unless they commit additional, ‘more serious’ crimes as well. When prosecutors wait for violent or other serious crimes to occur before charging these criminals, our constituents pay the price.”

The lawmakers requested that the U.S. Attorney General utilize whatever authority is available to address the growing crisis, including prosecuting these criminals to the fullest extent allowable under the law, to cut off the escalating fear and violence in their districts. 

Reps. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), David Valadao (CA-21), Devin Nunes (CA-22), Young Kim (CA-39), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Michelle Steel (CA-48), and Darrell Issa (CA-50) also signed on to the letter requesting answers from DOJ.

Click here to read the full letter.

Read more from Fox News here.

Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here.