Illegal Cannabis Brings Human Trafficking Victims to California

Law enforcement officials say they’re witnessing an uptick in human trafficking victims working on illegal marijuana farms in California.

Nine people who were arrested during a May raid in the Mojave Desert are suspected human trafficking victims. All of them are Chinese nationals, according to NBC News. They were living in cramped, squalid conditions and had not been paid for their work. They were tending to 25 greenhouses that generated an estimated $8 million in quarterly revenue.

None of the victims admitted to being trafficked, which makes it difficult to get them help. Many are afraid they will be hurt by their traffickers if they disclose how they came to the U.S.

The suspected victims were all released after their arrests, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

California’s black market for cannabis poses many problems from crime to environmental safety. Human trafficking and egregious labor violations are another aspect that often get overlooked.