$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. dreamicus

    Now, we take the amount of money spent on the operation and add that to the to, say, a 20% tax on the marijuana if it were legal and taxed the hell out of like alcohol and tobacco. How am I better off for this?

    August 22, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • glaw

      How about no "extra" tax beyond whatever the amount of the state sales tax. And how about some representation before just arbitrarily slapping a tax on something?

      August 24, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Canada

    I never understood the "legalize it" motive. all that does is make it okay to have it in your possesion, How are you going to tax something that people are now legal to grow on their own? I grow hay, I sell it without tax. The feds make nothing in tax off my hay, it's under the table they don't see the income. It's going to be the same thing. like selling stuff over Craiglist.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Cheech

      Because most people won't go through the trouble of growing it themselves. How many alcohol stills do people set up to make their own hooch...rather than just going to the liqour store instead?

      August 22, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      you make it just like cultivating and selling tobacco. You must has a license. Anyone caught growing and selling without one gets a massive fine and possible jail time.

      Or have a law stating citizens can only have a certain number of plants for personal consumption.

      It can work if the government wanted it to.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Lots of options with that. You could issue a permit for each plant, that way you can control how much people can grow. Say, twenty give bucks for a permit and it has to be attached to your plant until harvest, limit of 3 at a time, that way you are growing only small amounts for personal use and still contributing to the tax system, lots of other options as well have been discussed but that is one I think would work.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • glaw

      I dont see any laws limiting the number of tomatoes an individual can grow for personal comsumption.. No limit to what you can be able to grow. If you sell it, then you have to declare it as income, and collect/pay the state sales tax. Simple. Why does everyone think in a manner that limits their freedom??

      August 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hmmm

    That is a lot of produce to just "uproot" and "destroy". I'm using quotes because God knows that wasn't exactly what happened.
    However, why does the government continue to follow a failed drug policy.
    I agree: Legalize and Tax it.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      "However, why does the government continue to follow a failed drug policy."

      Because they continue to have their pockets lined by big tobacco, big pharma, and big alcohol to keep the substance illegal.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joshua Partridge

    Noooooooo!!!! you monsters!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Shirley

    It needs to be legal!!!!!!!!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. TB

    When will they start hitting Indian Reservations which have been well known for the perfect place to grow the stuff?

    August 22, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Cheech

      Yeah...we haven't screwed those poor Indians enough.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Shirl

    I don't understand why we can drive up and get booze,but something that really helps people who never hurt anyone are punished for enjoying God's green herb. What's up with that?

    August 22, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Judy

    Legalize & Tax!!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mary Jane

    All you have to do is look at places like the Netherlands...They tax personal amounts and they move on. They don't have the highest rate of addiction the United States does. There isn't half the crime there because anyone can get it so there's no need to steal it....It's the Jews that won't allow it here in America, blame it on them.....Drinkitall blogspot com

    August 22, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. gmenfan54

    Cheech and Chong are mad a hell.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chris in Atlanta

    What a sigh of relief. Now are kids are so much safer from them evil pot growing terrorists and their evil mind controlling drug. One puff and you become a radicalized terrorist bent on destroying America.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • rebiii

      What about people who like to use public lands for legitimate purposes?

      The fact that somebody might have rigged the upper part of a remote watershed with barbed wire, explosives, or worse to protect their crop would make me think twice about exploring that area for fishing or hiking. And yes, as hard as it may be for you to believe, people do use remote areas of public lands for fishing and hiking.

      Can we at least agree that if people are going to engage in this kind of activity, it shouldn't be on public lands and shouldn't put the public at risk?

      August 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • glaw

      the only reason they are growing on public lands is to avoid the shipping costs, and customs problems. It is about the cartels bottom line. Legalize it and the profit goes away completely. The cartels will not export product or establish grows in the US when there is not any money to be made. The drug trade is the only reason that there is border violence. They are fighting over money and control of border towns.. That is what its about. Legalize, eliminate the profit, and you eliminate the violence. Unfortunately you probably would destroy the economies of several third world countries.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LOL

    1 billion @ 100% tax (why the hell not that much) = 1 billion dollars in tax money. How much did we spend finding/destroying it instead?

    August 22, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Greg

    if they just made it legal people could grow it in their back yard gardens. there would be no market for the pot grown in protected lands.

    a good example is to look at alcohol. it is legal to brew your own beer. it is not legal to distill alcohol. there is still a huge market for moonshine. when was the last time you herd about anybody bootlegging beer?

    want to protect the national forests, legalize pot. for the record i don't smoke pot.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Edward

    America should have sold it for one billion and paid down the debt. You have far worse problems than marajauna.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      Yes! Like... spelling

      August 22, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. What?

    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.

    This is an odd statement. I guess a corn or soybean field doesn't have any chemicals or pestacides put on them. Generating large amounts of trash????? How does a plant generate large amounts of trash?????/

    August 22, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr.GreenThumb

      Cannabis is a high energy plant and requires lots of minerals and nutrients to be healthy. You are correct that outdoor crops can contaminate soil and water systems.

      If it's grown using Aquaponics, the system is fully contained and there is absolutely no run off.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr.GreenThumb

      If it's grown using Aquaponics, the system is fully contained and there is absolutely no run off.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • PC

      Typically, the guys that tend and protect the farm pack in the supplies to live there, but do not pack out the trash. During a typical grow season, 3 guys living in the woods eating 3+ meals a day, drinking, can generate a large amount of trash. Not uncommon to find a mini garbage dump there too. Empty jugs of pesticide and jugs of fertilizer, food garbage, bottles, cans, not to mention miles of garden hose buried from a stream to the farm. A lot of farms are found by walking the stream banks, find the garden hose used for irrigation, then follow it to the farm, sometimes miles away in the forest.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • glaw

      really miles of garden hose? you would have to have a lot of garden hose to reach that distance, and alot of pumps to overcome that kind of head pressure. Oh and where are you going to source all that garden hose in a remote area and pack it in?? and the math.. 1mile = 5280 feet of garden hose = (106) 50 foot garden hoses at 10 lbs each.. thats alot of trips back and forth.. then the connecting.. Now the head pressure pushing through a garden hose that long?! whew good luck! and thats only if its a mile.. I lose 25% going over 4 foot with 1200 gph pumps. Your post is more fiction than fact.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
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