$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. Jimmy

    Wonder how many millions our federal government spent on these raids...cause they're going to have to do it again in a few months. Problem with weed is its a weed and can grow almost anywhere. Sure wish we had spent that money on health care for the poor or food for the elderly....

    August 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jerry

    Oh, oh! Don't let Mr. Obamboozzeler and his "groupies" know about the destruction of so much pot. They will cry like babies...

    August 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      conservatives support legalization too, jerry.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. IWANTTOKNOW

    Its sad that sooo much tax payer money was spent on this "raid" while so many more dangerous and harmful criminal enterprises "within" this country are conducted with a fraction of the attention. Im not saying I suport or denounce marijauna use, but it seems like the ones who make the descisions to go after easy pot busts, are influenced by the private companies who profit from the current illeagal status of pot. ie prisions who get cheap labor from convicts, most of whom are serving minor drug infractrions.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. don415

    the "gateway drug" that made and continues to make America rich!! imagine the job loss if it were legal?

    August 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ug

    It is our land...

    August 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Davehuckle

    They could have harvested that pot then sold it to actual patients who actually need this dope to help them with their problems.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Trouthunteraz

    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.

    Read as: 1 Billion dollars that will not filter its way into the local economies and more people on state programs.

    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.

    Read as: We (the goverment) just wasted vast sums of tax dollars that could have been used for more improtant law enforcement of real crimes, money that could have inproved wild lands, state and federal parks, and ask yourself WHY the department of Homeland Security is involved in a domestic issue instead of securing out BORDERS!!!

    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.

    Read as: 14 individuals...really that is all you can find in california?

    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.

    Read as: Not that legal farm practices are any safer for the environment, kinder to the forests or water sources, it is just we can make money from legal farms, that is after we pay out billions of TAX dollars in subsidies.

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

    Read AS: the very definition of insanity, "Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!"

    August 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      True!

      August 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      EXCELLENT ANALYSIS.

      August 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • FS employee

      Easy for you to say.... You do not have to WORK in these conditions daily. Snipers and booby traps. Legal farming is MUCH safer. I have yet to be shot at by a Real Lawabiding Farmer. These illegal operations generally include illegal aliens... hence the need for homeland security. Also... you may not be aware... but there have been several attacks and deaths to law abiding, tax paying citizens of this Great Country, by these people growing these crops. The damage and injuries they are causing and COSTING us tax payers is staggering.

      August 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • zulucanibal

      That was the way I read it.

      August 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      This is the most ridiculous use of federal time and money that I've ever heard.
      A billion dollars worth of product that 16 states find use for in their troubled economy, is destroyed.
      Which candidate will step up?

      August 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      FS Employee: Such is the fallout of prohibition

      August 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      @ Concerned Citizen:
      Gary Johnson & Judge Jim Gray, the Libertarian party's candidates, are the ONLY ones with the guts to take this issue on.
      Unfortunately, you don't see the press giving him any coverage.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Live in the real

    Or they could change regulations and the government could have sold this and made $1 billion...

    August 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      That is money we desperately need these days too. But the government would have just given to other countries and not put it to use here at home where we need it.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew

    Isn't destroying taxable product illegal, federally?

    August 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Why would it be?

      August 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Andrew: A company can destroy their produt if they choose to.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Destry

    I just want the same god given rights that all of P.O.S. alcoholics have in this country.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ogolo

      I second that. I used to drink a lot of liqour (a gallon a week 2 1.75L bottles) when i didn't have a job for a year. You would classify me as a alchoholic and i did have run ins with the law mostly for stupid things because my judgment was turned off. Guess what helped me get off the juice. One hint, it is illegal, came from the earth just like the maple tree in my back yard and didn't cloud my judgment it just made me forgetful for a couple hours afterward Now i dont drink or smoke. I think the addage once an addict always an addict is untruthful. MJ is not physically addictive like alchohol or other hard drugs. I think it should be legalized so it can be capitalized on and used in treating real addiction. There is research going on that you can use Opiods such as morphine or heroin to treat the addiction of methamphetamines instead of using methodone. Heroin and morphine are schedule 2 so they can be used medically and you will be okay from the feds. What is this country coming to. Where are the libtars at step up

      August 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom Slaten

    THey never produced 1 shred of evidence that the people were leaving any garbage behind whatsoever, that they were using any kind of pesticides (and, it's doubtful they were), that they diverted any water resources (in this particular areas), that a single one of them was involved with any kind of drug cartel, or that a single 1 of them carried around on their person a firearm of any kind whatsoever. There are a lot of preemptive judgements they are asking you to make, a lot of conclusions they are expecting you to come to. They don't want to produce any evidence for a reason. This is government grandstanding at its best!! Probably, not one single one of the above allegations are true, in all honesty, they are just trying to make them sound like the big, bad Wolf to further their own careers. That's very Selfish of them. They rely on people's ability to jump to conclusions. They rely on people's ignorance.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cherries

    I'm honestly more afraid of meeting folks gaurding a pot farm than I am of a wild animal. Sad, because I love to hike.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • FS employee

      I hear ya! Me too! But it is a reality some of us face everyday that we head into the Nation's Forests.

      August 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dope ER

    The DEA needs to do something about those birds that keep eating those hard seeds and pooping in the woods, Lol, This story is really depressing, looks like I need to fire a big fat juicy bud up to help me cope with the stupidity. Lol, Hey how long do you think these old fogies will take to hit the last box so we can get a re-schedule and correct this misfortunate ignorance the seems to prevade common sense.Lol, And now that they've ruined a bunch of peoples lives and infringed on states rights in order to protect us from our free-will,freedom, and our right to make our choices as adults.Don't we all feel so much more patriot and proud to be free. Lol.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Peter Roub

    14 pathetic people harvested an ongoing crop of over a billion dollars annually ... by themselves ... yeah, right. Any person with even a single brain-cell in their head know that this is not true. And, so, yet another enormous waste of government money to conduct this "investigation" so that a bunch of lawyers can sit around giving each other high-fives after the 14 individuals are unanimously convicted, despite the pleas of their tax-funded court-appointed lawyers. Good work, Uncle Sam...anytime I need someone to blow my money in a hurry I know who to turn to.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. skinsrock

    It wasn't worth any money... It's too early for harvest.... they love to throw around big numbers, but the truth is ... They got Butkus. Seeds are worth pennies.

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