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Massive underground, illegal marijuana grow operation busted in San Bernardino

San Bernardino authorities uncover massive illegal, underground marijuana grow operation
San Bernardino authorities uncover massive illegal, underground marijuana grow operation 02:07

San Bernardino area law enforcement has busted a massive marijuana grow operation, uncovering over $9 million in illegal product in an underground bunker. 

The discovery comes as San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson and San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus continue to crackdown on illegal drug enterprises operating out of the more rural parts of their county. 

"The money in illegal marijuana is not a victimless crime," Dicus said. "There are a number of things that have happened. I've had deputies pass by these areas in Newberry Springs and had rounds go through their front window." 

Investigators had previously executed a search warrant on a Newberry Springs property back in 2020, when they discovered more than 2,000 live, potted marijuana plants and over 100 pounds of processed marijuana ready to sell on the five-acre property. 

The owner of the property, Cheng Lin, was only issued a citation back then. 

When they returned to his property in March of this year with another search warrant, they found the same single-story residence, but also several sheds and one single Conex Box, or shipping container, as detailed by Jaquelyn Rodriguez with the San Bernardino DA's office. 

They found a door on the floor of the shipping container, which led them to a 14,000 square foot underground bunker, filled with over 6,000 marijuana plants and equipment. Investigators estimate that the worth of the plants alone is well over $9 million on the black market. 

"We have a bootleg-Amazon selling illegal or counterfeit products out of a warehouse that's buried underground," Anderson said. "Who can compete against that? Jeff Bezos can't compete against that."

Rodriguez continued to detail how, "a grow that size is estimated to take one gallon of water per plant per day, indicating that the minimum amount of water usage would be at least 6,000 gallons of water daily."

Anderson issued one final statement on their continued efforts to cut down on crime, "Individuals who want to engage in these kinds of activities know that their land is either going to be taken, or we're going to get creative to prosecute and you're not going to do it  here anymore."

Lin was one of five people arrested and charged with several felony drug and environmental law charges. Others individuals charged are Wu Lin, Qiaoyan Liu, Zhonggui He and Mingfeng He. 

Lin and Liu were both also charged with land owners conspiring to commit crime. 

Additionally, authorities have also issued warrants for the arrests of six other involved people including Weijian Liu, Aiqing Lin, Wenren He, Lijie Lin, Bin Li and Huang Lin. 

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