Gavin Newsom’s Unified Enforcement Task Force (UCETF) seized 11,260 illicit cannabis plants and destroyed 5,237 pounds of processed illegal cannabis flower in an investigation targeting unlicensed outdoor cultivation operations Oct. 4.

The task force, led by the Department of Cannabis Control’s (DCC) Law Enforcement Division and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), issued nine search warrants Oct. 4 for a rural area of Jupiter, Cali., according to a news release.

Newsom created the task force to eliminate the number of illicit cannabis operations in the state, which has been affecting state-legal businesses. Newsom also established the task force to protect communities and consumers from consuming potentially harmful, unregulated, and unlicensed products. 

“California is taking immediate and aggressive action to stop illegal cannabis and strengthen the burgeoning legal market throughout the state,” Newsom said. “By shutting down illegal grow sites and applying serious consequences to offenders, we are working to curtail the criminal organizations that are undercutting the regulated cannabis market in California.”

“These illegal grows can be detrimental to our state’s fish and wildlife resources and their habitats,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Several environmental violations were documented on this operation, including sediment that would impact Eagle Creek during the next rain and hazardous materials that can be lethal to local wildlife. This newly created task force is poised to address these harmful grows from a coordinated approach because they violate many facets of our state laws.”

RELATED: California’s DCC Has Seized More Than $1 Billion in Illegal Cannabis

Earlier this week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta introduced a related task force to crack down on illicit cannabis operations in the state. 

Bonta said this week he plans to expand the state’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program, a multiagency seasonal eradication program started in 1983 under former Gov. George Deukmejian, into a year-round Eradication and Prevention of Illicit Cannabis (EPIC) task force.

The task force will work with state Department of Justice prosecutors, the department’s Cannabis Control Section, and an existing Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy (TRUE) task force.

“The illicit marketplace outweighs the legal marketplace,” Bonta said. “It’s upside down, and our goal is complete eradication of the illegal market.”

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