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Authorities seize $19M in illegal cannabis from West Berkeley warehouse

Authorities seized about 12,000 pounds of cannabis worth over $19 million from a Berkeley warehouse, the latest in a series of raids on illegal grows in the East Bay.

ByAlly MarkovichFeb. 16, 2023, 1:54 p.m.

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Authorities shut down a major illegal cannabis grow in West Berkeley last week, seizing about 12,000 pounds of cannabis worth over $19 million, according to the agency.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Department of Cannabis Control served a search warrant at a warehouse at 2427 Fourth St., where they seized 22,600 cannabis plants worth $18.6 million and 244 pounds of cannabis flower worth about $400,000.

The warehouse, previously home to a sheetmetal company called Graysix Co., was “heavily fortified,” according to David Hafner, a spokesperson for the Department of Cannabis Control.

The Department of Cannabis Control, created by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021, led the operation, joined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California National Guard, the Berkeley Police Department and Berkeley Code Enforcement. The raid was first reported by the Berkeley Scanner.

Hafner estimates that at least two dozen individuals would have been involved in the seizure. One Berkeley police officer was involved, according to BPD spokesperson Byron White.

Drug enforcement is at the bottom of BPD’s list of priorities, in line with city law, White said. BPD’s Drug Task Force ended in 2016 and the city no longer has a Special Enforcement Unit, which White said makes it more difficult to conduct these types of investigations.

The Berkeley operation is the latest in a series of raids on illegal grows in the East Bay. In the last three weeks, the state agency shut down three illegal cannabis operations in Oakland and Hayward, seizing close to $39 million in cannabis, according to the East Bay Times.

Since California legalized marijuana in 2016, illegal grows have surged across the state, an LA Times investigation found. Reporters from the Times described a complex web of criminal enterprises behind the grows that were difficult to track and exploited laborers, many of whom worked in dangerous conditions.

Authorities did not make any arrests in connection with the seizure in Berkeley, though the Department of Cannabis Control is looking for the individuals behind the operations.

Agencies will destroy the cannabis by throwing it away in a landfill, Hafner said.


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