$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. Jim - Tampa

    That is lots of wasted potential tax revenue.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Doosh-LaRooush

      No kidding, reminds me of old news clips of prohibition when they would bash open barrels of whiskey and beer, what a waste of time.

      August 22, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jack 63

    Short sighted. Instead of burning the stuff they should have harvested it, sold it to the medical pot industry at half price, then raided the places that bought it and fined them. And they wonder why Krazyfornia is broke.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
    • GuestToo

      Good idea. Hemp is used in many products. My daughter just completed an internship with the USDA – U.S. Forest Service in the midwest and actually brought home specimens for her class requirement. This "weed" is everywhere, grows wild...The government action to try to stop a naturally grow plant seems like a waste of tax money....they should put the effort to some financial use.

      August 24, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Terae

    money down the drain..hmmm instead lets just let the federal reserve print money out of thin air and cause inflation for the rest of us who keep getting broker and broker everyday...smart government...ya no...this is not something to be proud of. Those plants could of been made in to a 100 different things it doesnt have to be smoked to make money...the oil companies dont want that so instead lets just keep letting them get richer as America continues to decline into a deeper hole of debt and the failing of america...our government is ruining this country demos and repubs its so bad they are so out of touch with America....

    August 22, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. disismdns

    a part of me dies at the sight of this kind of news coverage...

    August 22, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. enlightened apeman

    Legalize it! Tax it! Pay your bills! Pretty simple solution to a lot of different problems.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. End prohibition

    Does America really want to start a new industry? How can the Government save 60 Billion a year and create increased tax revenues and create good paying jobs? Simple re-regulate marijuana.
    This plant can be used to make paper products, thus saving endangered forests all over the world. This plant can be used to make Bio Fuels, clothing, rope and many more products. Besides the obvious other uses and/or abuses of the plant.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Klancy Schmertz

    Government waste.
    And we have so many things for which our tax money is needed so much more desperately.
    Did your Representative vote such laws or support them? Did he or she vote to fund this waste of tax money?
    What did your Senators do?
    All representatives are up for re-election in 77 days, as are 1/3 of the Senators.
    Are you registered to vote? Are you sure? Did you check your photo ID against your voter registration name? Exactly the same? If not, get it fixed NOW.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. FDR

    War on drugs is over folks! Lets go home.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. fiftyfive55

    I guess strip mining for coal,fracking for natural gas,etc., aren't as harmful as growing crops,who'da thunk it

    August 22, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. Corey Trevor

    1 Billions dollars down the drain just to make a bunch of suit dummies happy, notice how they complain about the damages done to the land due to harvesting yet we dont have a problem with the chemicals and giant filth producing crap holes that tobacco's processed/grown with.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. chocolog

    "Many of the grow sites are controlled by drug trafficking organizations, which arm their cultivators with dangerous firearms." Shotgun...?

    August 22, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. BuddyR

    I am all about the legalization of marijuana, but it should not be illegally grown in National Parks by mexican drug cartels. There are plently of American citizens doing this in a much more appropriate manner. I do agree that destroying everything they confiscate is a waste, as they should figure out a way to capitalize on the $1B worth of product they now have. But again, these people are illegally and unnecessarily destroying valuable land, wildlife, and natural resources and should be cracked down on. Just leave the hard working americans and dispenseries alone!

    August 22, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    Mama nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. chocolog

    Yeah fracking is fine, it is backed by oil companies! It is ok when the water from your tap readily ignites, stop being a wuss about that. Its that organic fertilizer that potheads use that is the problem.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. BG

    Gee....I thought the federal or state government controlled public lands? Not drug dealers? What is the message they are sending out? That the tax dollars spent on law enforcement is wasted Go figure, I would have thought that busting drug dealers would be what cops want to do, should be high profile enough for them to care, not like just writing traffic tickets or stopping drunk drivers.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
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