California has approved legal pot, but black market growers thrive

SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. — On one October morning in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains below Sequoia National Park, Fresno County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Matt Alexander and the task force he leads prepared for a familiar operation.

Their targets were two illegal marijuana growing operations identified from the air by a helicopter the day before. It was not unusual in Fresno County, or throughout the Sierras. For years, one way to tell that it was fall in this part of California — along with college football — was when law enforcement started raiding giant marijuana grows.

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