Multiple raids were carried out Thursday in communities surrounding Perris, where Riverside County sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement personnel targeted illegal marijuana grows, seizing roughly six tons of raw and processed product, as well as arresting at least 27 people.
Sheriff's officials said 48 search warrants were served at properties under investigation for alleged illegal cultivation of cannabis.
The raids got underway between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., though specific locations were not disclosed.
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Officials also did not immediately release details about the arrests, during which 37 firearms were confiscated and one butane honey oil lab was dismantled.
Honey oil, also known as "wax" or "hash," is a liquefied marijuana derivative. Drug lab operators use butane stoves to extract tincture from cannabis plants that can be mixed with anything and bottled.
Numerous explosions and fires have occurred throughout the Inland Empire over the past decade as a result of home-based honey oil manufacturing. The practice has become so rampant and potentially destructive that the District Attorney's Office in 2017 released a series of public service announcements, warning of the dangers and consequences of making honey oil.
The county recently implemented a comprehensive regulatory framework that requires marijuana growers to go through a step-by-step licensing process, which includes background checks.
No commercial grow permits have been approved by the Board of Supervisors to date.
The county's Cannabis Regulation Task Force, whose members include deputies, prosecutors, probation agents and officers from several municipal law enforcement agencies, has been conducting raids on a regular basis since last fall, mainly targeting illegal storefront marijuana dispensaries in cities.