$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. Josh

    Uh-huh. How much money is the operation costing? I think in the future people will wonder how insane we were to spend billions of dollars and lock up countless people over a plant.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mole

    So do some banks.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. pork&beans

    o0o0o0o...The big mean government and their war on drugs. *eyeroll*

    August 22, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bvtt3rfly

    Mother Earth will exact her revenge.
    Because the government has deemed pot illegal and so "bad," the true good that Mother Earth intended has either not yet been discovered OR the government knows its value, medicinally or otherwise, and is not sharing these finds with the general public.
    I am surprised government as we know it didn't split the goods between themselves and have a "Democrat/Republican-Really, we're all just people among people but can get away with it because we ARE the government" party.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. rick

    Chris: If you want prohibition, this is one of the outcomes.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    When is the US going to do the smart thing & legalize marijuana! The stuff is less dangerous than aspirin, not to mention hemp is illegal along w/pot, which can be used in myriad ways & a great source of revenue! I know so many people who have smoked all their lives, who are now in their 60s-70s-80s, still smoking! They are people who are blue/white collar who are successful & use weed to relax & even as painrelief! It's just ridiculous that this plant is illegal! Why? Is there more revenue for the govt. to keep it illegal? It's an interesting question, I think!!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bodine

    This just shows your ignorance on the subject. POT is not an addictive drug. Your lawnmower and other things that can be pawned are being stolen by CRACK and METH heads. Not POT smokers!!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike in Denver

      Point of order. ANYTHING can be addictive. Remember, there are three types of addiction, physiological, psychological, and behavioral. One need not be physiologically addicted to be addicted.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • illusive

      All you people who say its not addictive are either wrong, or I know people who go against the norm. I personally know 4 people that are plainly and absolutely addicted to pot. It has not done pretty things for them over the years (Mostly mentally)

      August 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      Oh, really? I remember 2 of my friends when we were all 16 asking me for a ride to the pawn shop so the could sell some jewelry they had stolen from their grandmothers. Why did they steal it? To by some pot, of course!

      Make growing just enough for personal consumption, (grown in a secure location,) and its use in your own privately-owned residence legal, while using in a public place or a rental property becomes a $1,000.00/1 year offense and supplying it IN ANY AMOUNT to ANYONE else, free or for profit, a capital offense. Once we execute enough of these idiots the trade vanishes and the users that are left will smoke themselves stupid 'til they eventually die out.

      Problem solved.

      August 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Now you're showing your ignorance. I smoke pot every once in awhile and I've done research on it. It is an addictive drug but a lot less than tobacco and other drugs at only around 9 percent. It's not physically addictive which is probably what you're referring too but it can be psychologically addictive which can be just as strong. For example cocaine doesn't have that many physical withdraw symptoms but its very psychologically addictive and hard to quit. The addiction to pot is definitely not as strong as those other drugs but some people can become addicted to it and find it really hard to quit.

      August 24, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. ckerst

    That's a billion dollars in lost revenue at a time when the country could really use it. Not very smart.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. NOT MY CHAIR

    imagine what revenue we could have taxable if marijuana was legal. this is just a drop in the bucket to the amount that is sold and consumed daily... not to mention the amount of money it would save us in law enforcement and correctional facilities. but its ok we are americans we dont like change and we love wasting money on things that will not change

    August 22, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr.GreenThumb

      The price would drop so heavily that the tax on it would not be as sufficient as they want. We're talking about $40.00 ounces here. Right now in legal states, the tax alone on an ounce is over $50.00. When the prices drop becasue of legalization, they would be lucky to make $10.00 per ounce.

      As far as your argument about a decrease in prison staff and law enforcement, I agree. This is where we would save the most money. Ask yourself this though, does government ever get smaller? Would THEY want to decrease the number of people working for them? I don't think so.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dr.GreenThumb

    All you stoners are so into taxing cannabis but why?

    I say legalize it and NO tax. Why should we tax something that's been here and cultivated for thousands of years? Why don't we tax air and water while we're at it. You give them an inch, they take a mile. Your kids will grow up into this madness and have even more rights taken away and the story goes on and on until we're slaves. again.

    You people are so used to the government screwing you. You think there can be compromise. Well get it through your head, there will be no compromise for us. Just look at how congress runs (or shall I say ruins) this country.

    Legalization is a pipe dream and will unfortunately never happen, not in the next four years anyways. By the way, Obama said in a Rolling Stones article that legalizing marijuana is not one of his priorities as pres. "We're not going to be legalizing weed anytime soon" That's straight from the words of your president people!

    August 22, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      well the people in charge will only change the laws when they realize they can make more money going with the flow than fighting it. also if they legalize they dont realize how easily it will grow everywhere

      August 22, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. longtooth

    Reminds me of those old photos of federal agents emptying bottles of liquor and smashing beer barrels as if it were some kind of achievement. We just destroyed a billion dollars worth of a harmless weed ! Whoopee !

    August 22, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. GovequalsGenius

    Thank God that $1B is now wasted and useless instead of being put into our ever worsening economy. Anyone know what the tax revenue would be off of $1B? Apparently our government doesn't, or that's what they would be allowing to happen.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      yea but if they legalize it that would mean less lobbyist giving donation to keep it illegal.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. awwman

    what a shame!.. . i could of found many better uses for that.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. god

    Homeland Security? Dangerous Firearms? Home much did all of this cost us, the tax payers?

    August 22, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr.GreenThumb

      The largest expense was our freedoms.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. citizenUSA

    Nothing against pot but you should not intrude it onto others. Legalize it, like Peter Tosh said and all this goes away. You don't hear about moonshiners anymore, (although it still exists it's extremely localized).

    August 22, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
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