$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. noll

    Make it legal. Even Obama admits openly to smoking pot in his past. I don't advocate smoking it because some people become terribly unable to move forward in life because of it but like alcohol it is choice. The money from it alone in taxes would take a big chunk our of our national deficit. It only makes sense.

    August 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ron jon

    I am not entirely sure the drug war "wastes money" as people say. The DEA routinely seizes drug money and uses it for funding.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      ron jon: i wonder what % of the DEA budget comes from asset seizures

      August 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Approximately .4% of the $2 billion DEA budget comes from asset seixures

      August 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. retief1954

    “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.

    So, LEGALIZE IT, then. People aren't gonna stop using it and buying it! God, this country is so BACKWARD when it comes to stuff like this.

    August 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jesse ventura

    Pot farms should all be eliminated from Public lands. They're harbingers of deadly gang violence

    August 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TAX REVENUE

    the potential tax revenue wasted

    August 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. oregonsbragia

    You want to see real damage to our public lands and water supply? Look no farther than the 2x4s that are holding up your house right now. Logging is real devastation. Or what about allowing grazing and all of that cattle destruction and runnoff on the "public" lands? I'm also pretty sure that forest fires will dwarf the pot farmer's destruction this year and every year. If you really want this to stop, then legalize it and let people do it on their own land, as god intended. Also mad respect to the guys who could make a crop grow in Death Valley! Traditional farmers could maybe learn a thing or two from them perhaps.

    August 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Huh?

    I'm imagining that old TV commercial with the American Indian with a tear in his eye.....

    August 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      i am thinking the same thing, except it would be a old grey haired guy with a tie-dye t-shirt

      August 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Crocker

      Not the Indian. A Mick Jagger or Keith Richards look a like with a big peace sign and a couple of rows of beads on his necklace.

      August 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. panzerduck

    ...... and in Vancouver B.C. .... it rained yesterday and probably will again soon. Our farmers stand commited to produce more fruits and vegetables to make up for US short-comings. Oh..... and we think Romney is a cultist..... good luck America !

    August 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gwtars

    Idiots. If it was legalized, that would be a billion dollars injected into the economy, along with its tax revenues.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carlissa

      I am with Majestic lizard and GWTARS, if it was legal, that much money would be in our economy and that would be less to worry about. If it was legal, I don't think there would be as much crime to get the product, it would me more available. Our Government needs to supply the users, not the over seas marketers. Just think, we could use so much of the product, not only for medicinal purposes, but for clothing, etc. Just wake up, smell the smoke.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. evensteven

    How many billions of dollars have our state and federal governments spent trying to keep people from doing what they choose to do with their own bodies? That money could be educating our children!

    Don't worry, there's always still plenty of pot available for those who wish to use it—and they will keep using it— because they are making a choice over their OWN body which is their right to do . . .

    August 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denihilist

      Would want people doing growing things for profit on public lands around you with absolutely no regard what damage they do to plant and animal life or streams and rivers? I'm all for legalization, but these aren't people growing a little bit for personal use on their own property. It's abusing land that belongs to everyone for their own personal gain.

      August 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brenda_Sue

    That's a damn shame....

    August 25, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. wildone

    Oh, the cruelty. That MJ could have made a lot of people happy (if only for a little while).

    August 25, 2012 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. edub

    I must tip my hat to the authorities for going after the illegal aliens who are illegaly growing low grade cannabis in the forrests and ruining those habitats. Allow the Americans who own land and follow the rules to grow and distribute high grade cannabis, send the thugs back to Mexico!

    August 25, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Piapeanut

    Monsanto's running the farming show and everything is roundup readied Are we supposed to see illegal pot growing in the woods as the villein?
    Or the polluting of Alaska with herbicides for miles for a train track when there are other alternatives.
    Why can't the pot be sold to the pharmaceuticals so they can sell it for medicinally use?
    With the US deficit as it is how can we afford to flush 1 billion dollars in 2 months time, not to mention the money spend on man power...

    August 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 1amazed1

    Imagine the medicines the government could have made as well as products from the hemp plant confiscated. The products would need to be made in a secure legal manner.

    August 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Martinez

      Big drug corporations already use cannabis in medicine (Marinol, Sativex) they know its medicinal values but want to keep it illegal to keep all the profits. Kind of stupid though because they legalized synthetic THC and now more recently synthetic (and non-synthetic) CBD and CBN pretty soon someone will tell them they made all the chemicals in the plant legal so how can the actual plant be harmful and illegal.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
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