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More Than $177 Million in Illegally Grown Marijuana Seized in First 10 Weeks of New SB County Operation

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San Bernardino County Sheriff
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A San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputy standing inside a marijuana greenhouse.

In July, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus launched Operation Hammer Strike. In its first 10 weeks, the program has seized an estimated $177 Million in illegally grown cannabis

The county calls the program Operation Hammer Strike. According to Lieutenant Marc Bracco of the county's Gang and Narcotics Division, the county has accomplished a lot so far. "Our teams have already served 241 total search warrants with 295 suspects arrested," said Bracco.

In total, the department has five enforcements teams and an additional team focusing on drug trafficking. According to Bracco, the groups have seized almost 240,000 cannabis plants and over 50,000 processed marijuana products. He added, "This effort is going to be ongoing probably for the next nine months to a year to get a better handle on all this stuff."

Bracco says the state's move to make illegal cultivation a misdemeanor rather than a felony has been a significant concern of the department."When it's just a misdemeanor and a $500 fine, these people aren't that worried about what can happen to them, and that's the problem with the drug trafficking organizations; they put these people here; they don't care what happens to them."

He also responded to criticism that the department should have different priorities besides the operation. He said, "I think it's just a public misunderstanding of what's really going on here. You know, if we live in a normal residential neighborhood, where our neighbors are 5, 10, 20 feet away, you know you're not being impacted by those groves. It's really the rural communities that are being impacted." Most of the farms have been in Morongo Basin, Lucerne Valley, or Phelan.