The Los Angeles Police Department has been stepping up the intensity of its crackdown on the city’s numerous unlicensed cannabis shops, grows and other operations. But this week, one LAPD officer fell afoul of the law himself during a raid on a grow operation somewhere in the vicinity of Echo Park, Highland Park and Silver Lake. According to a worker at the unlicensed grow, LAPD officer Louis Mota stole money during the raid. But officer Mota didn’t pocket the cash from the coffers of the grow. Instead, he snagged it from the backpack of one of the workers detained at the grow site.
LAPD Cop Stole Money from a Worker’s Backpack During Raid
On Monday morning, an LAPD task force with the department’s Northeast Division raided an unlicensed cannabis grow operation. Police did not release any information about the location of the grow or the people who were operating it when the raid happened. What we do know, however, is that one of the officers involved in the raid has been accused of stealing money during the enforcement action.
In fact, it was one of the employees of the unlicensed grow operation that first reported the theft to police. That employee reportedly told an LAPD supervisor that cash was missing from her backpack after the raid. The cash belonged to the employee and was not in connection with the operations of the grow.
After securing the scene, the LAPD supervisor ordered a review of the grow site’s surveillance footage. That footage revealed that LAPD officer Louis Mota was likely responsible for stealing the money from the employee’s personal belongings.
In light of the surveillance footage, the LAPD immediately sanctioned officer Mota. The department stripped Mota of his LAPD badge, his firearm and his ID. They then took Mota into custody and booked him on suspicion of misdemeanor theft. But the LAPD did release Mota on his own recognizance.
Now, Mota is reportedly assigned to his home while he awaits the pending results of an LAPD internal investigation and a criminal investigation into the cash theft during the raid. In a written statement, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the department “will not tolerate any individual who betrays the public’s trust through this type of behavior.”
This isn’t the first time LAPD officers have broken the law during actions against Los Angeles dispensaries.
Los Angeles Law Enforcement Escalating Crackdown on Unlicensed Grows
LAPD officer Louis Mota’s arrest for misdemeanor theft during a cannabis raid comes amid a string of mass raids targeting unlicensed cannabis shops in Los Angeles. In recent months, LAPD raids have targeted dozens of unlicensed cannabis shops and grow operations, seizing tens of millions of dollars worth of cannabis products and cash.
Roughly three quarters of all known cannabis sales in California happen between buyers and unlicensed sellers, according to recent estimates. The transition to the legal, licensed market has been slow, and state officials and licensed business owners have been demanding action. “We look forward to working with local jurisdictions and law enforcement as we continue to shut down unlicensed operators,” said Lori Ajax, California’s top cannabis regulator, back in December 2019.