“The issue remains untenable…”

Obernolte requests to Attorney General Garland:


Representative Obernolte tours illegal marijuana grows from the air 

July 14, 2021____ Washington D.C.____

U.S. Congressman Jay Obernolte (CA-08) toured illegal marijuana cultivation sites in San Bernardino County from the air, on board the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Heli 40-King, with the Aviation Crew, Saturday after sending a second letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting federal assistance to address the large-scale illegal marijuana grow crisis in Southern California.  

“While we are grateful for your previous work addressing a portion of these grows, we write asking you to address the ongoing operations in the surrounding areas, particularly in San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County. The issue remains untenable for residents living in these areas,” read the letter sent by Rep. Obernolte and neighboring Rep. Mike Garcia (CA-25). “We continue to hear from our constituents of heinous incidents of intimidation, coercion, and violence being used by illegal growers to ensure that their operations are undisturbed. Not only do these criminals threaten the residents, but they are damaging our public lands and water resources.” 

      The San Bernardino County Sheriff currently has around 1000 potential grow sites under investigation, with the number of illegal grow operations in Southern California increasing in some areas by over 300 percent since 2019. These grows pose serious risks to both public safety and the environment, with subjects intimidating residents, shooting at law enforcement, impeding access to areas, using dangerous banned chemicals, and stealing precious water resources.

Illegal marijuana grows currently consume between 11.4 and 36.3 million liters of water daily across California. 

"The illegal cultivation of cannabis is a threat to our communities' public safety.

It impacts our rural area’s natural resources and threatens the local wildlife. My Department and San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors are taking immediate action to affect this fast-growing illegal activity and require support from our federal partners in eradicating the unlawful cultivation of cannabis," said Lieutenant Marc Bracco of the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department- Gangs and Narcotics Division.  

The aerial tour with San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department officials examined a number of massive grow compounds in the Phelan and El Mirage area, many employing easily identifiable berms and gates to control access to the sites. Water transport trucks and storage tanks were visible at several locations from the air, along with significant quantities of trash dumped into the environment. 



Saturday, July 10th, District CA-08 Representative Jay Obernolte also joined local leaders and San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon at a community town hall hosted by the Phelan and Pinion Hills Community Service District to address issues regarding the illegal grows. Community residents raised concerns ranging from the destruction of Joshua Trees and water theft to cartel involvement and the need for federal assistance to address the grows.   

Read the full letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland here.

illegal marijuana grows from the air.   


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                                                                  Congressman Jay Obernolte