An elaborate underground marijuana grow operation in Newberry Springs is the biggest illegal cannabis bust in San Bernardino County history, officials announced Monday.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Office held a news conference Monday morning to announce charges against the 11 people accused of running the massive underground marijuana operation which was discovered on March 4.
Officials said the subterranean cannabis farm covers a record breaking 14,000 square feet and was located 15 feet below ground.
The cannabis that was recovered has a street value of $4-9 million.
“What we are talking about is massive scale, illegal, counterfeit, bootleg conduct that is having a tremendous impact on the environment for our residents in rural counties,” District Attorney Jason Anderson said during Monday’s press conference.
Of the 11 people who have been charged, five have been arrested. The search is ongoing for the six other suspects connected to the illegal growing operation.
Anderson said the legalization of recreational cannabis use has made prosecuting these types of crimes more difficult which has lead to a change in strategy: go after the property owners.
“Once we can say that these properties are known to contain a nuisance, we’re going to take the property,” Anderson said.
Of the five people who have been arrested, two were the property owners, the DA’s office said. One of the owners was busted for a similar crime in August 2020.
Those arrested face possible charges for conspiracy to commit a crime and could face sentences of up to four years in prison.