Police dismantled a massive illicit marijuana farm on the site of a former plant nursery in Riverside during a day-long operation on Thursday and Friday, seizing about 40,000 pot plants valued at $20 million, authorities said.
Detectives launched an investigation earlier this week after receiving an anonymous tip reporting a strong odor of marijuana coming from a property in the 2500 block of McAllister Street in Riverside’s Greenbelt area, Riverside Police Department Officer Ryan Railsback said.
Investigators thengot a search warrant and showed up at the property, which was believed to formerly have been used as a plant nursery, officials said.
The plants were being grown inside a series of greenhouses on the property and were in various stages of maturity, video footage from the scene showed.
Officials spent about 24 hours gathering up all the marijuana and loading it into trucks, with the aid of forklifts.
In addition to the marijuana plants, “They also found the chemicals used,” Railsback said. “Thousand of gallons of pesticide and thousands of pounds of the fertilizer used for this cultivation process.”
Animal control officials took charge of several dogs found on the property, the officer said.
No people were present when officers served the warrant, Railsback said. Although police did find what appeared to me makeshift living quarters on the site.
The investigation into who owns the property and who was responsible for the pot farm was ongoing, he added. “They’re going to continue following up on that side of it.”
If allowed to grow to maturity, Railsback said the marijuana had an estimated street value of $20 million.
Police also seized equipment including several cars, a tractor and a forklift from the property, according to Railsback. Once no longer needed as evidence, the department will likely seek to permanently seize the items through asset forfeiture, he said.
Although recreational marijuana is legal in California, “It is very illegal in the city of Riverside to have anything more than six plants for your personal use, ” Railsback said. “And it’s obvious that this was a full-scale operation going on that was conducted illegally.”