$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. New Gawker

    This is time and money taken away from something more productive like hunting illegal mexicans.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. paul

    I am for the legalization of marijuana, however the growth of marijuana on federal lands is harmful for the environment and would be a criminal act even if it were legal. That said IF marijuana was legal we wouldn't have to spend the probably multi billions of dollars this operation alone cost to solve this problem.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Jack and Jill went up the hill to smoke a little leaf,
    Jack got high and dropped his fly and Jill said "Where’s The Beef?"

    August 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. poisonousroot

    OMG I am tired of the "stoned" comments. I am 70, smoked, like Willie Nelson, the terrible weed. I have never been "wasted" on it. The ludicrous, dizzy high that you see in old movies is a myth, but I sure as hell have been wasted on booze from time to time. PLEASE, if you really give a big damn about this nonsensical prohibition on a smoke than inforce the Volstead Act again and make liqour illegal. You are not honest with your convictions because you know that every jack-son-of-a-binge-drinker would have your scalp on a platter. Preachers, priest, poloticians, old grannies, you name it get a good buzz on and you chase the smoke for you pastime because it makes you feel righteous. We don't ask you to smoke. Get it!

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

      You are sooo right-on! These hypocrites don't know what they are talking`about! Alcohol is so much worse than pot. You do not lose consciousness or get dizzy on pot like you do with alcohol.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jorge washinsen

    I think the fellows (DEA) should cut the stuff when it is in the prime and sell it to pay off the national debt. I am not a GOP hopefull Congressman skilled in reproduction but I do remember when lotteries were illegal almost everywhere in the states and now are milking the whole country dry.

    gopcongressman who has studied human reproduction

    August 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. xdougx

    Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lokari

    So, based on the numbers provided, a single pot plant is potentially worth $1730?!?!?
    Maybe it's time to rethink my career choice!

    August 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • 28g/oz

      An ounce of good weed up here in Seattle goes from anywhere around $200 (good prices here 🙂 ) up to $300-$500ish depending on what city you're in and how good it is. There are 16 ounces in a pound, a plant can easily put out 1-5lb if it is healthy with good genetics and is grown by someone who knows what they're doing. You do the math.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      Worse than gas prices.

      (Adjusts onion on belt) When I was a teen, and smoked a lot of weed, an ounce of the good stuff was $45. Mexican ditch-weed was about $35, and you could find local home-grown for about $20 per ounce. Heck, I bought a half-pound of "I found it growing wild* on Grandad's farm" for $100. I rendered it down into hash-oil and made about $150 in profit, selling cheap.

      *It grows wild all over Kentucky.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steady Eddy

    Boo to the DEA and Boo to Obama for enforcing this. As an Obama supporter i can't believe this...

    August 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • nostrildamus

      Sorry, while I think the weed laws are stupid, there's been rangers shot at by weed farmers in state and federal parks, so this is hardly harmless mom and pop farming. Some of the farms in the SoCal parks have turned out to be run by cartels.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jonny rocket

    "Poison lands". you mean they way they do on food farms

    August 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • nostrildamus

      Right, which is why we have these parks... to protect at least some of our wilderness from wanton destruction.

      Further, do you think the cartels that are already farming the pot illegally are going to be bothered about using EPA/FDA approved fertilizers or pesticides?

      August 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. El Ninio

    Really??? NOoooooooo. Now I know why our economy is bad. With hit like this we will never recuperate.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pay attention

    This country was built on gangs

    August 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chris Bessemer

    A Billion? Are you kidding me? no way a plant is worth almost 2 grand....idiots....

    August 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      You're obviously obviously not in the loop on this one.
      Read "28g/oz"s comment above yours.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Executive1976

    *Sigh* Why are we wasting so much time and effort policing such a benign drug. People who smoke pot only want to sit around and eat Cheetos ... it's *supposed* to be a free country – if people want to waste away their life smoking pot, LET THEM. There's plenty of other people willing to step up and seize opportunity. It's a fact that people who drink alcohol get aggressive and / or make the same degree of poor decisions as those on marijuana. When was the last time you heard of a murder while the perpetrator was on marijuana? Oh yeah, only in 'Reefer Madness' of the 1950s. And don't trying referencing the Florida zombie – he had mental issues and no active THC in his system; those mental issues could have just as easily been exacerbated by alcohol. All I'm saying is that alcohol and marijuana are on the same playing field as far as relative magnitude of effects (note I didn't say the effects were the same, and I don't believe all drugs are created equal – as an example I'm definitely against legalizing anything else).

    You might argue marijuana is a gateway drug. To that I ask you, how many people who smoked marijuana didn't first start with alcohol? We haven't legalized marijuana in this country for one reason – fear. People are afraid of what they don't understand, and because they think what other people _tell them_ to think without question.

    Why (as a country built on opportunity) don't we seize the opportunity at hand to tax the s*** out of the drug, save a bunch of police-related enforcement costs and eliminate a valuable commodity of drug traffickers to the south and the associated violence while we're at it. Marijuana is the highest-ranking cash crop of illegal drug traffickers in the WORLD. You might argue that if we eliminate their primary cash crop it'll drive the production of other, more dangerous drugs up? Maybe. But the market will always be there and isn't going anywhere anytime soon as long as demand remains present. Look around you. You can get METHAMPHETAMINE prescribed by a doctor if you have severe enough ADHD (code name: Desoxyn). Yeah, I bet you didn't know that, huh. Look it up! It's a CII drug, same class as Oxycontin.

    Why do you think the people of Holland are so content...not saying they have is a perfect system but what we as a country could do is learn from their mistakes and 'do it better,' as we always aim to do in our endeavors.

    And as far as this B.S. about 'pot farms doing damage to trees, etc.' I'd LOVE to see the proof on that statement. How are the pesticides and chemicals used for cultivating marijuana different from those used to cultivate corn? As far as generating trash? What do you think happens to all the corn stalks once the corn is picked? This is so grasping for straws in terms of legitimizing efforts its ridiculous. It's funny to see what people will consume (no pun intended) just because the 'news' says it's true (if you want real news, try watching the Newsroom on HBO BTW)...remember when Bill Clinton said 'I didn't inhale?' Exactly my point.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Executive1976

      When I said above that the people of Holland are so content, I'm not for a moment suggesting we embrace socialism...more was referencing that country's approach to marijuana-related laws.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dsmidiman

    Actually, I worked in the IT business for years and one of the companies I worked for not only DID NOT have a ban on pot smokers the boss man that hired me actually told me during my job interview that the majority of people who worked there were pot smokers and he didn't care if his employees even smoked pot on the job because they seemed to concentrate better and get more done when they smoked pot. I worked for that company for 2 1/2 yrs and retired a very rich person (at 40 yrs old) The company was and still is one of the biggest most profitable Internet companies in the world. People who say that all pot smokers are just lazy and all they want to do is sit around eating on the couch doing nothing, these people are simply showing their ignorance about most pot smokers. It's like saying every person that drinks any alcohol at all does nothing but lay around on the curb all but passed out. Or every person that eats candy, fast food etc. turns into a 600 lb blob incapable of wiping their own buttocks. Or any of the other stereotypes a person can think of. The bottom line on the pot thing is simple. The govt. and the people controlling it can make bucket loads more money keeping pot illegal!! That's the whole enchilada!!! Plain and simple!!! If pot were made legal and people could legally buy it in stores the crime associated with the buying and selling of pot would literally disappear, the expenses of finding prosecuting and incarcerating people who use it would disappear. The revenue generated by taxing the sales of pot could be used to build and maintain rehab centers for those who have addictive personalities and can't control their usage. Just like we do for people who can't control their usage of alcohol, food, prescription drugs etc. But the govt. and the people running it would not make as much money as they do now, law enforcement people would have to actually start working busting real criminals that do real harm to people and society instead of just cruising neighborhoods looking for some guy hiding in the alley lighting up a joint. It amazes me how much money our govt. and pharma, companies have spent and continue to spend making and marketing "feel good" designer drugs. Many of which have a long list of possible side effects that potentially could be very hazardous!! Yet even with the many positive effects pot has been proven to have over the years it is still illegal to have. It's insane!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 420setfree

    This is soooo stupid.... all the money!..... U.S doesn't make any products here, We burn money ( aka: Pot ).etc.... Just legalize this and tax the hell out of it.....We're trillions deep and need to make changes.....I feel like we still live in 1930.... things change people.....and there are really much better thing to worry about..... go get all the heroin heads off the street first!...Pot doesn't kill, just make ya sleepy if you have to much.....

    August 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
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