California Task Force Seized $53 Million in Illegal Cannabis in Q1 2024

The Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce revealed the most recent statistics of its ongoing mission to eliminate illegal cannabis activity throughout California.

Nicole Potter

The California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) recently published an announcement regarding recent cannabis taskforce seizures. As of April 11, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) seized over $53,620,600 in illegal cannabis during the first quarter of 2024 (spanning between January 1, 2024-March 31, 2024).

Law enforcement seized 331,866 pounds of unlicensed cannabis product, destroyed 54,137 cannabis plants, and seized $34,858 in total cash, in addition to confiscating 11 firearms and arresting four people.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom released a press statement regarding the Q1 seizures. “California is home to the largest legal cannabis market in the world,” said Newsom. “As we continue to cultivate a legal marketplace, we’re taking aggressive action to crack down on those still operating in the shadows—shutting down illegal operations linked to organized crime, human trafficking, and the proliferation of illegal products that harm the environment and public health.”

UCETF acting chief, Nathaniel Arnold, praised the agency for continuing to provide results as it tackles the state’s illegal cannabis industry. “UCETF continues to strengthen its momentum by focusing on priority targets and strategically removing operations having a significant impact on the illegal cannabis supply chain,” Arnold said. “We are utilizing all the available resources from our partner agencies and are committed more than ever to providing public safety, protecting the environment, and helping the regulated market succeed and thrive.”

The DCC’s Law Enforcement Division Chief Bill Jones noted that UCETF’s success so far has been a group effort between numerous agencies. “A key to UCETF’s success is a collaborative approach relying on intelligence gathering, targeted investigations and leveraging the expertise of our members,” Jones said. “The Taskforce continues to play a crucial role in protecting the legal cannabis market while eliminating the often-dangerous activities associated with unlicensed cannabis operations.”

The UCETF works with the following agencies to investigate and act on illegal activity: “Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Department of Cannabis Control, Employment Development Department, Department of Fish and Wildlife, California National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, California State Parks, and the Department of Tax and Fee Administration,” with the addition of other “federal and local partners.”

Eighteen search warrants were conducted in Q1 2024, including two in Alameda County, one in Fresno County, five in Kern County, one in Los Angeles County, two in Riverside County, one in San Joaquin County, and six in Orange County.

The UCETF was created by Newsom in October 2022, and since then it has seized $371,199,431 in unlicensed cannabis product from a total of 236 warrants.

Within the first month of operation, UCETF conducted 13 search warrants in Los Angeles. It eradicated 7,503 plants and 936 pounds of cannabis flower over the course of two days. After that initial announcement, UCETF released numbers by quarter, as seen below.

Q4 2022

Warrants Served: 30

Cannabis Seized: 19,401 pounds

Plants Eradicated: 29,687

Retail Value Seized: $32,012,854.50

Q1 2023

Warrants Served: 21

Cannabis Seized: 31,912 pounds

Plants Eradicated: 52,529

Retail Value Seized: $52,644,020.50

Q2 2023

Warrants Served: 92

Cannabis Seized: 66,315 pounds

Plants Eradicated: 120,970

Retail Value Seized: $109,277,688

Q3 2023

Warrants Served: 60

Cannabis Seized: 61,415 pounds

Plants Eradicated: 98,054

Retail Value Seized: $101,349,657

Q4 2023 

Warrants Served: 24

Cannabis Seized: 13,393 pounds

Plants Eradicated: 20,320

Retail Value Seized: $22,294,571

Q1 2024 

Warrants Served: 18

Cannabis Seized: 31,866 pounds

Plants Eradicated: 54,858

Retail Value Seized: $53,620,600

UCETF Totals So Far (Q4 2022-Q1 2024)

Warrants Served: 236

Cannabis Seized: ~234,588 pounds

Plants Eradicated: 401,458

Retail Value Seized: $371,199,431

So far, the UCETF’s seizures peaked in Q2 2023, and have since been reduced significantly. The DCC did not address what the reason might be for the reduction in warrants and plant/product seizures overall.

Regardless, the DCC is committed to its efforts to protect the legal cannabis industry. “California is effectively decreasing the illegal cannabis market by leveraging the strengths and knowledge of over 20 state agencies and departments alongside our local and federal partners. The UCETF’s progress in 2023 reflects California’s ongoing commitment to disrupting  and dismantling illegal cannabis activity,” said DCC director Nicole Elliott in January. “I look forward to working with all our partners in 2024 to build on this progress.”

Last year in September, there was a raid on a legal cannabis business called Se7venleaf in Costa Mesa, which at the time was thought to be conducting business illegally. Law enforcement seized 100 pounds of cannabis flower, various boxes of cartridges and vaporizers, among many other business-related items (security cameras, devices, and documents). In late March, the Costa Mesa police were forced to return all of the seized items. “They didn’t like that they had to return the stuff,” said Se7venleaf co-owner Matteo Tabib. “They didn’t like that they were wrong, and they didn’t like that they were embarrassed and that nobody was charged. They gave no consideration that me and Michael and our employees’ lives are not in a good place right now.”

Nicole Potter

View Comments

  • Are the psychopathic state not understanding anything? Prohibition FAILED. It always caused more crimes than it ever solved. The state is NARROW-MINDED, OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDERED MORONS. Cannabis SHOULD BE LEGALISED AND DECRIMINALISE. when EVERYONE grows it no matter how many for their own use, like ordinary herbs, vegetables, fruits, etc, THEN cannabis will BENEFITS everyone, 100%. Cannabis is good for the body, it's designed for the Endocannabinoid system! Why are the state ignoring THIS? They are MORONS.
    The problem with these state, is that they keeps making up rules and not for the best of society. It's for THEMSELVES, their "prohbition" is all about easy money, life-long job being a bully to people who just wants to be left alone in peace and pursue their own happiness. The state thugs are the psychopaths who are obsessed with controlling everything. They are the PROBLEM. I believe the state set themselves as arbiters of everything and ruins millions of people's lives all because they thinks they knows best what we all should do, think, etc. TO HELL with the STATE. FUCK THE STATE!!!! I say, spread the cannabis seeds, spread the hemp seeds, everywhere, in the wild, in the cities, everyone, blanket EVERY INCH of every country, so the plants will NEVER go away. The plants is GOOD for the body. NO ONE EVER DIED FROM THE PLANTS. ONLY the psycho9paths caused deaths from their highly illegal "legalese" shits, and the pharma-shits, and the medical-cartels shits! Those are the criminal groups who are parasties and feeds on all things illegal just so they can stay in business by force. They are CRIMINALS, just like their covid criminals who foisted their fail covid crimes on all of us.
    It's time we shut down these psychopath criminals and rid ourselves of these pests.
    And legalise and decriminalise cannabis, hemp, the whole plant, the seeds, the roots, the stems, the leaves, everything the plants grows. So we ALL can benefits from the plants in any way we wish.
    Eat the plant. Chew on the leaves. Make teas with the leaves. Make bread. Make hempcrete. Make oils. Make all sorts of wondeerful things. And to HELL with thsoe who refused to let this happen. They should be rounded up and shot! All of them, all the criminals, the state, the fucking govertnment control feaks, all of them should be wiped off the planet. We DO NOT NEED THEM. They needs us, taht's why they lie and lie and lie and lie and claism the plant makes people crazy. Nope, it does not. ZERO deaths from the plants, morons. I consider the feds, the state, the cops, all of them, the mainstream media, the pharma assholes, the medical assholes, all of them, COMPLICITS in their CRIMES against HUMANITY.
    I DECIDE what I puts in my body, NOT THEM. MY BODY, MY RIGHT, MY CHOICE!!!! This is the nature of FREEDOM. Something the state hates. These slaves hates freedom. They are cowards, infantile and weak, unable to think for thesmelves, always regurgitating the old tired tropes of lies that says the plant is bad. They are liars only because Big OIl, Big Paper, Big Drugs Dealers aka pharma assholes, Big Medical Wackos, Big Politicians, they all gets kickbacks and bribes andb shits from all the dirty shits they pushes out since they made the plants illegal way back in the 1940s. To HELL wiht these thuggy groups, they are useless and should be wiped out. No SYMPJATHY for them scumbags.
    And ultimatly the Big Elites responsible for causing this idiotic prohibition in the first place should be rounded up and ghanged for their crimes agains thumanity by denying us the symbiotic relationship our very FLESH has with the plants!!!!!! Endocannabinoid System! HELLO!!!! All these psychopaths cannot deny they have this system in tehir bodies too. Stupid morons. No matter how they denies the truth, their very own body products the same stuff that the plants MAKES. But they will ignore their bodies signals for the need for the plants, insated they will just druged themselves to stupidi9ties with tehir stupid drug dealers aka pharma assholes and their useless and highly toxic shits they thinks will heals them of all that ails them. LOLOLOL I laugh at them when they have diseasese and thihnks doctors can fix that. Hahahahahaha! SUFFER, arseholless !!!!! Hahahahahahahahaha! I despises these pieces of shits, these control freaks, who thinks we should kowtow to these scumbags. Nope. Fuck the control freaks. Fuck the state. Fuck them ALL. BURN THEM ALL DOWN!!!!!!

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