$1 billion in pot destroyed in raids on federal lands
More than a half-million marijuana plants have been destroyed in the two-month federal operation.
August 22nd, 2012
07:51 AM ET

$1 billion in pot destroyed in raids on federal lands

More than $1 billion worth of marijuana has been uprooted from federal lands during a two-month operation targeting illegal pot farms, federal authorities announced Tuesday.

Operation Mountain Sweep has resulted in the destruction of  578,000 marijuana plants, Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, said in a press release.

The operation, involving agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as local agencies,  targeted growing sites on public lands in seven Western states - Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Wagner said 14 individuals in California have been indicted on charges resulting from Operation Mountain Sweep. Authorities have shut down 96 pot farms on public lands in California since the operation began July 1, the federal authorities said. Among those pot farms were sites in national forests and parks, including Death Valley National Park.

Besides producing an illegal crop, the pot farms can do long-term damage to public lands by destroying trees and vegetation, introducing chemicals and pesticides, diverting water sources, and generating large amounts of trash.

“Those who cultivate marijuana on public lands pose a safety threat to the public and an environmental threat to the land. Many of the grow sites are controlled by drug trafficking organizations, which arm their cultivators with dangerous firearms. The poisons they spread kill wildlife and native plants and pollute watersheds," Wagner said in the press release.

The operation will continue through the end of August, authorities said.

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Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Marijuana
soundoff (1,000 Responses)
  1. Heywood

    I wonder how many millions were spent on this operation. I wonder what the taxes $1.bill would generate if sold legally. its a great thing this country is swimming in money and has no need to raise revenue or find new avenues. perfect.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. ROMNEYBLOWS

    this is absolutely dumb. but what can we citizens do about it? nothing. People have been so misinformed about pot forever. It makes no sense. Its a schedule 1 drug, a long with METH and COKE.. now how the hell is pot anywhere near either of those two. Its a medicine and its completely natural. Im pretty sure if it was legal, our country wouldnt be so messed up. But that'll never happen.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Reagan and his buddies did this....

      August 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jimdog33

    so you created a new CNN profile just to post that? Loser.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Doktor Theo

    Only a complete moron would officially register herself as a violator of federal law.
    You dummies and your "medical" smoke. How utterly stupid of you.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. mandfkiwsa

    This could have been harvested and sold to make money for the government, or simply legalized outright. Instead, the Forest Service sells logging concessions for a pittance. I don't want growers clogging MY forests with pot plantations, dangerous booby traps, and armed guards. Legalize it, for heaven's sake.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mk-

    Except for guys like Carl Sagan. Oh yeah. That.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cap

    What a waist of tax dollars!! They are fighting a war that hey can not win! Why can't the government get that through their hypocritic heads? Its not even a drug! It is an herb! God put it here for a reason and who are they to restrict God? I thought this was "One nation under God...."

    August 22, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Ionic1

      Waist vs. waste. Perhaps a little less smoke for you? It might improve your waist line.

      August 22, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sane mind

    Claybigsby I suggest you read my comments under the original post.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      and I suggest you reread my comments about prescription meds OTHER than antidepressants.

      August 22, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sane mind

    Ashland. Outstanding argument.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. JDM

    For the love of God, this pointless war on drugs needs to end!

    August 22, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. driveby

    Commercial growing operations are quickly becoming an ecological disaster on the same scale as golf courses. In terms of water diversion, chemical pollution abandoned equipment and garbage our public lands are being abused. This ,in addition to armed thugs running around the back country protecting their crop from other armed thugs. Regardless of wether it's made legal or not, the broader implications and collateral damage must be acknowledged.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. panorain

    14 people arrested for $1b in marijuana? Sounds like a lean haul. These cultivators need to be shown a quick exit once they serve their time. They can take their skills with them and apply them to helping their own country.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. JDM

    FACT: If you drink, sir, you are also doing drugs.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Seyedibar

    What a waste! Think of all the taxes that could've been earned selling it.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • lol

      lol my favorite is where the dept tries to justify itself saying the part farms pose a public safety concern

      August 22, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      DEA reasoning: Pot farms are run by dangerous criminals because we passed laws that made pot farmers criminals, so we have to defend you from the criminals we made! Can we have some more tax dollars, please?

      August 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. public land fan

    I wonder if the knee-jerk pot supporters who oppose this important effort know what they are saying, which is that anyone should be allowed to take over public land for private profit, use and sell our public resources, grow or build whatever they want, keep everyone else off (often at gunpoint with these pot plots), and pollute the lands and water. This has nothing to do with legalizing pot, it has to do with commonly owned public lands. If you never get out and use them you probably don't appreciate them but they are one of the greatest gifts our forefathers handed down to us, and huge human and environmental boon to us all. It's sad to see that so many people don't even appreciate our public lands enough to support to understand what's going on here.

    August 22, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      if you want prohibiton, this is one of the results

      August 22, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      also, do you think that no other businesses profit of public land?

      August 22, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I think it's safe to assume that, if the possession and farming of the plants were legal, you wouldn't have these guys trekking for hours into secluded areas of public land. It would be way cheaper, more convenient, and easier to secure your own private property than parts of a national park.

      August 22, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • THC

      The masses want cheaper better mind altering substances. And since I'll be laying around high, not working, I'll need more government programs to take care of my human rights: Shelter, food, medical, education come to mind.

      Pragmatic hedonism, buddy, don't fight it! If it feels good, do it. Capitalism is for taxpayers, socialism is for the rest of us. Now we outnumber you! Get to work, pay taxes, and then let's redistribute it. Legalize it, don't criticize it!

      August 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • public land fan

      So the collective response from the pot fundamentalists appears to be that our public lands are there for illegal activity. If you can't do it legally in public you should at least be allowed to do it on our public lands. Dump your appliances. Shoot your illegal guns. Dispose of your toxic waste. Poach to your hearts delight. Start your own ORV and BMX trail and charge people an entrance fee. Start your farm or build your cabin that you can't otherwise afford land for. If the public land managers try to stop you we will oppose them!

      August 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Again, public land, this is one of the forseeable results of prohibition.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
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