Authorities said they had seized 1,500 pounds (680kg) of processed marijuana, 27 guns and 11 vehicles over two weeks in Mendocino National Forest.
The 900,000-acre site is part of an area known as the Emerald Triangle for its high number of marijuana plots.
The raids are part of a wider campaign to remove marijuana from public land.
Marijuana for medicinal use is legal in California if you have a permit to grow it or a doctor's note to buy it.
But Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said there was no sign that any of the gardens raided were being used to grow medical marijuana.
In the past, Mexican drug cartels have been blamed for the cultivation large quantities of marijuana in California, though no details were given about those arrested over the past two weeks.
But US Attorney Melinda Haag told the Associated Press that 25 people were already facing federal charges.
Does anyone think that the drug cartels are going to go quietly into the night? They will not concede a multi-billion dollar cash cow to Mom and Pops or some Walmart-style corporate pot growing operation without a fight.
Just look at meth production and distribution in the San Joaquin Valley. A large chunk of the “jobs” it created have been lost to Mexico. The loss of American meth, manufacturing, if you will, means the distribution is more and more under the control of the Mexican drug cartels that make the Hells Angels look like Boy Scouts in comparison.
The reason why the cartels are as far north as the Mendocino National Forest is fairly clear. And it has a lot more than the fact it is a relatively isolated area given the forest is the size of Rhode Island. Marijuana grown in California’s North Coast forest tends to be of higher quality and fetches more money per ounce.
It would be Pollyanna to think that legalizing marijuana would do the same thing that legalizing alcohol did to illegal moonshine operations. Most moonshiners disappeared as big business moved to cash in.
Moonshiners didn’t execute police, kill innocent people, and terrify entire towns as the drug cartels do in Mexico.
Even so, how could the cartels hold onto their control of a large chunk of the marijuana market or event expand it if California legalizes recreation use of pot? The answer is rather obvious. If California legalizes pot for recreational purposes, there are 49 other states where it still would not be legal.
States rights are an important - and sacred - part of the constitution.
But in this case Californians may want to think twice about trying to thumb their noses up at Uncle Sam at the ballot box.
The drug cartels are getting more brazen with each passing day in Mexico. Should the door open a bit more in California, not much will stop the cartels from kicking it wide open.