California House Republicans Demand Merrick Garland Take Action on Illegal Marijuana Grows

US Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 12, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. - The committee held a hearing on Domestic Violent Extremism in America. (Photo by Bill O'Leary / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BILL O'LEARY/POOL/AFP via Getty …
BILL O'LEARY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The California Republican Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action against the “dangerous increase of illegal marijuana grows in southern California.”

The letter, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), comes as there is an “alarming escalation in dangerous criminal activity across Southern California related to illegal marijuana grow operations.”

The lawmakers wrote, they “have heard from our constituents of heinous incidents of intimidation, coercion, and violence being used by illegal growers to ensure that their operations continue unimpeded.”

“There have also been multiple homicides at these grow sites as opposing criminal syndicates engage in turf wars,” the group of Republicans added. “In September of 2020, seven bodies were discovered at an illegal grow in Riverside County, and, just recently, two bodies were discovered at another site.”

The lawmakers outlined the “menacing” problem, outlining the criminals operating the grows have been damaging the public land and stealing resources residents in the area value.

“It’s estimated that at the end of 2020, illegal marijuana grows were illegally consuming between 11 and 36 million liters of water daily,” the lawmakers wrote. “Water is already a precious resource in California, we cannot allow these illegal operations to exacerbate the problem further.”

The group said the grow sites are run by a “majority of illegal grows are operated by illegal immigrants who have either entered the country illegally or have overstayed visas.” They added, over the last year, the grow sites have “swelled as much as 300% in some areas over the last year” due to “the dangerous combination of lack of law enforcement and lack of border security.”

The growth is fueled in part by the knowledge that criminals who are arrested will ultimately face no consequences. We have heard from local, state, and federal law enforcement who are frustrated that their hard work is routinely rendered pointless by prosecutors who refuse to charge offenders unless they commit additional, ‘more serious’ crimes as well. When prosecutors wait for violent or other serious crimes to occur before charging these criminals, our constituents pay the price.

With the letter, the group of lawmakers are requesting Garland to use “whatever authority is available to address the growing crisis, including prosecuting these criminals to the fullest extent allowable under the law, to cut off the escalating fear and violence in their district.”

The letter was also signed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Tom McClintock, Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Young Kim (R-CA), Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA), and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA).

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