$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. DBertrand

    Stoopid government!! Burning the country's hope for getting out of debt quick!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. justacomment

    This is merely a matter of the forest and parks agencies obeying their own rules. You just can't go on public land like that and mess it up. Common sense.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Keith

    With the economy like it is and the Republicans giving the rest to the rich folks we are all going to have to become outlaws just to get by. Nothing wrong with growing a little pot to pay the bills.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eh?

    Legalize it. Darwinism at work.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Zerky

    Legalize it and tax it instead of wasting money fighting it and jailing those who use/deal it.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Itsthedevilswork

    Thank God my tax dollars paid for 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 to destroy this horrible, horrible marijuana!!! IT'S THE DEVIL'S WORK!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. My name is not Obama

    wow, that was smart: (i) our country is in debt and people have no jobs or low paying jobs, (ii) users will now just buy in on the black-market where the product is supplied from other countries, (iii) US could have used $1 billion dollars of capital–MJ or not–more effectively, but no... Our country is run by schmucks!

    August 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • bettyboop33

      a bilion dollars of MJ grown on public lands in seven Western states – Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. lol... think about all the MJ grown in other places...like private homes...they havent even made a dent in the situation. As long as Americans continue to be the largest consumers of MJ and all psychoactive drugs the feds wont be able to destroy all of it....just another simple fact of supply & demand.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
    • tjp44

      correct you are...NEVER going to stop it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 23, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. silly

    Enforcing drug laws costs billions of dollars in court costs, police costs and prison costs and destroys billions of dollars in revenue because it imprisons people who can no longer contribute as effectively to society because they're criminals. This insanity needs to end

    August 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    The let's legalize marijuana crowd has been around longer than the hippie culture of Haight-Ashbury in 1968. They tried then to legalize weed back then. Just "who" do you need to convince to make it happen. Tell us now. Who?

    August 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      they need to convince the political hacks that the country supports it.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • tjp44

      who really cares if it's legal anymore, we do hat we want and they cannot stop it.....ignore the government and do as you will

      August 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • CA Liberal

      The banks who launder the money.

      The problem with the drug war is all the money in it and all the people who jobs depend on pot being illegal.

      August 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    You grow it at home (screw the Feds?), you will be busted. Done deal.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • leroy

      don't grow to sell just for yourself and yes screw the feds and take the money out of the whole thing

      August 23, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      I don't know the source of that burr you have jammed up your rectum about pot and pot smokers, but it is amusing in a watch-the-geek-at-the-circus sense. legalization is coming. if you don't like it, i suggest you smoke a phatty and relax. if not, then at least have the common decency to eat the business end of your sidearm

      August 23, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • tjp44

      wrong, with a card you can have up to 9 or 10 plants........happening all over each day

      August 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I am going to leave you now, so I can consort with my friends and aquaintences, on other threads. You can go on and talk about me behind my back, without my interference. Sorry I tried to put a kink in your utopian dream.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • tjp44

      you did nothing you little twirp, in fact more people will groww 7 smoke because of you Ohio idiot

      August 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TMA

    I just had pot earlier today.. still feel the risidual effects in my body. And quiet honestly, Ive been chill ever since then. This news doesnt make me mad, U.S. will turn around someday in regards to pot. Its coming soon.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. C More

    $1 Billion in just 578,000 plants. That comes out to $17,301 per plant. From a friend, "On average, you can only expect 1-2 ounces per outdoor plant."

    An ounce = $210.00, street.

    The growers may only see $90-$120 of that.

    So lets go for A) Street and B) grower.

    578,000 Plants, remember? 1-2 ounces each?

    Street: $121.38 Million (@1 ounce per plant)-$242.76 Million (@ 2 ounces per plant).

    Growers: $52.02 Million (@1 ounce per plant at $90 per ounce)-$138.72 Million (@2 ounces per plant at $120 an ounce).

    Which gives us $52 Million to $243 Million depending on if you calculate for street price or grower price, and whether the plants yield 1 or 2 ounces per. Even on the highest end produce, with the best yields, at the best street price, this is no where near 40% of what they estimate. At worst it is just 5% of what they estimate. And keep in mind this does not take into account any of their production costs. You have to employee several men to be out their tending/guarding. You have to pay for transportation, you have overhead costs, you have to link up with a buyer, etc etc etc.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the DEA, DHS, etc etc etc justify their budgets.

    Thank god they got that, what is my educated guess, $70,000,000 worth of pot off our streets. It probably only cost them $80,000,000 to do it. Why is the USA broke again?

    August 23, 2012 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      One reason is that we have all these federal offices that do the exact same thing as the others do. Now homeland security is out looking for pot?

      August 23, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob Smith

      Sorry to say that your friend is a moron, and you as well for blindly following his (wrong) notion.
      Outdoor plants can yield well over a full pound (SIXTEEN ounces) if the grower knows half of what he's doing. Outdoor plants can turn into damn trees if given the chance. Your friend has no idea what he's talking about, so please stop spreading his false information.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      I wish I could get an O of good weed for $210. thats what we pay for mid grade bud.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. Pnm9pnm

    The geechy queen of Canada must be vary upset at the lest we all no her lines are the cracks lines in crack cocaine an cocaine lines the only lines she knows.pnm.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    This is the same crap the Gov't has been doing since the inception of the DEA. If people would actually take the time to LEARN about how Pot came to be illegal, they'd realize it's all bunk. Much like most things in life, moderation is key. Banning a relatively harmless plant while selling cigarettes and alcohol is HYPOCRISY at it's best.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul D. Jackson

      I am 70 years old and still like a taste now and then . Can't see any problem except the GOV. just lost a billion that they could have used on the deficit. So stupid.

      August 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
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