$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. jonny rocket

    One billion times a 20% tax = 200 million in tax revenue. Plus you tax the Wages earned on this, and thats just on what they found.

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

    This story always makes me laugh. Yeah God forbid stoned guy eats too much food or plays too many video games. No we gotta bust those potheads. But beer/liquor manufacturers can produce a product that does impair and everyone knows will result in thousands of drunk driving DEATHS every year with no consequence.

    WHY? ALCOHOL LOBBYISTS. SIMPLE AS THAT.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Why smoke it? Your perfectly healthy without it.

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

      because it feels good. there are lots of things people do that they can be perfectly healthy without. do you have a point?

      August 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      Why have a beer? You are far healthier without it.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fekt

    well, there goes a billion dollars the economy didn't need. it's not like you could legalize it and tax it. oh wait you could.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • ripper

      lol though of course they always inflate the $$.. that many plants would not produce a billion. it more like 400 or so per plant so 1/4 of a bil.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dakota2000

    If the house of representatives could have a meeting were they all smoked pot, maybe they would chill out, see the absurdity of their positions, and actually get some work done.

    To paraphrase Dr Jones, Sr., "maybe you should try smoking weed instead of burning it!:

    (I am sure I am the only person in the world that gets that, but its hilarious at the moment..)

    August 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wow

    Ok so now the demand for moldy and pesticide poisonous pot has risen to the point that the mexican cartels are zooming up again and we are back to chapter 1. Legalize it. Officals picked HEMP not smokable marajuana. They are portrayed as heros and actually just cost taxpayers millions. The picture is even of a male plant – useless except for oil, paper, fues, toliet paper, making fireproof construction materials............WAKE UP AMERICA

    August 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OregonTom

    If you want to smoke marijuana go right ahead. Please keep it off public lands though.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jorge washinsen

    At one time it was raised here to make rope. Grew in many places.George Washington had it I thneeeeeek.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Timmy

    Waste of government expenditure. I'm not a fan of drugs but let's regulate this thing and turn it into a cash crop for the lazy.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sabally

    If anyone in GOVt had some sense in them.. They should have given all that weeb to the State of California, so they can legally sell it and pay down their Arnold Schwarzenegger economical dissaster.. This would have been $1B less debt on that state..

    August 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sabally

      Meant to say Weed!!

      August 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ripper

      im for legalization but the chemicals they use in these large fields are very toxic to the land. also you think Arnold is responsible for calis debt.. lol. how much does it cost cali to have free education throughout for all cali residents.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RobM

    Marijuana is just a plant. It just grows. You don't need to add any chemicals to it. You can pull it out of the ground, dry it, smoke it.

    If pine cones got you high would the government make Pine tree's illegal?

    August 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ed

    I do not support legalizing marijuana. However, I do believe that millions of US tax dollars are wasted battling this epidemic. Some state governments who have legalized the use of marijuana (for specific and various uses) are undermining this fight. Why not sell the seized plants to those states at rock bottom prices and recover the tax dollars spent? I do not really think the people care where their pot comes from if their state has legalized its use. Have you seen the pictures of those rallies in past news stories? Realy……

    August 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Why do you not support legallization?

      August 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. There...I Said It

    Could have just requied them to mitigate the environmental damage with the purchase of carbon credits. Works for the corporations, right?

    August 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Scott Wheel

    The headline SHOULD have been: $1 billion raised to reduce federal deficit..... But no instead we get this! WAKE UP– even religious nuts like pat robertson and I believe ron paul 9if im not mistaken) have even advocated for the legalization of marijuana.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bfd007

    How ironic, the banking cartel stole $850 billion dollars had several ILLEGAL bank mergers, destroyed the world economy allowed to keep every penny of their million dollar pay checks,,,,AND NOT ONE ARREST !!!!!! Farms across the country do far more damage to rivers and land than do these weed farmers. As well as the slaughter houses and feed lot's across this nation, and where does the Hench-men AKA police get these numbers of what it is worth??? The government is out of control $16 trillion in debt,,wasting trillions on a fictional war on drugs that cannot be won, living in a police state is not what was intended with a tyranny government destroying this ounce great nation. It is the American government that is the axis of EVIL on the planet !!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
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