$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. abqTim

    What a waste. Pot only makes money for law enforcement, that's why it's still illegal. Lawyers, police, and everyone involved makes way too much money...everyone that is, except US citizens who have to pay the taxes on enforcing a law they mostly think is a waste of money anyway.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 0704American

    Why didn't they just sell the pot to the dispensaries? HELLO 1BILLION dollars could be used to create jobs!!! Or help states that are in financial ruin, states like California.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ...

    Gotta love how they inflate the value

    August 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Navyvet8192

    As long as there are people who remember the movie Reefer Madness and actually believe that it had that kind of effect on people, marijuana will never be accepted as the beneficial plant that it is. The funny thing is that their was huge amounts of alcohol consumed during the making of that movie according to the cast members, because prohibition had been repealed just 3 years earlier and alcohol was considered stylish. Some of the actors had to get tanked just to play their parts the way the director wanted them to! Ironic isn't it!

    August 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vincent

    Im not a smoker, but i say legalize it, regulate it, and tax it the way you do with alcohol and cigarettes.
    Its a product that people apparently want. Why let the criminals make all the money from it?

    All we're doing right now is wasting money on resources that could be used elsewhere.

    Besides the obvious problem of needing rehab services if its legalized, there are also a whole bunch of other industries that would be affected by legalized marijuana plants, and their lobbyists are there to make sure it never happens. Cotton growers, cigarette industry, prison system, etc. Do you think any of these would want marijuana legalized? Nope .....

    August 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • TODAY

      Just like Uruguay did

      August 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. It's legal in Cali

    I'm glad these guys got busted. After all the fighting to get medical marijuana legalized in WA, OR and CA, there is no reason for people who want to grow to go on federal land and ruin the environment. Agriculture of any kind is harmful to natural ecosystems. These people could have gotten the proper permits to grow and sell cannabis in their states. Growers who break the laws and damage the environment just cause more problems for the growers and smokers who follow the laws.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pay attention

      They don't just hand out permits for people to grow medical marijuana. Especially if you have a record.

      August 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radical Centrist

      Protecting the environment is another good argument to legalize cannabis! Don't decriminalize it and forget the med card silliness; just treat it like other species of flowers and it'll cost the same as picking some out of your yard (that is, not much) and nobody will trash any forests, steal electricity, or have to deal with any of the other unintended consequences of criminalizing an act that has no victims.

      August 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. heyheyhey

    Pot jacks up your memory. So if you want memory loss go right ahead.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • TODAY

      I know people who cannot remember damn thing and never touched weed in their lives ...LOL

      August 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radical Centrist

      Only short-term memory, and the effect reverses itself if you stop consuming it. Alcohol isn't real good for memory either, and then there's pharmaceuticals like Xanax and Valium (also good for forgetting things) and those can kill someone all by themselves, are highly addictive and are the only drugs that can be fatal to withdraw from whereas cannabis has never killed anybody (a few bales of it falling on a smuggler occasionally doesn't count).

      August 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TODAY


    August 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Syxx Sense

    Hmm, a plant causes so much strife but the amount of chemicals in our fast food is perfectly OK. A winner is our priorities.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. womenfly

    $1B ... and if they sold it that would be $1B less debt that the US owes... hahahahaha.... legalize it ... it's not a killer like BOOZE is.. tax the booze, sell the POT!

    August 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pay attention

    What a waste. Good herbs and tax payers money down the toilet.

    August 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. daniel

    my calculations... each plant they have valued at 1,730...inflated for sure...

    August 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Edubble2200

    Decriminalize, tax, allocate federal and state resources elsewhere.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    I wonder how much the whole operation to do this cost..... worth it?

    August 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ricky

    Oh, I'm sure they cause so much more damage to the land and surrounding area than your typical, say, corn farm. We all know legitimate farmers only the safest pesticides on their crops and never let it leak into the water table... Yeah, right. Stop the war on pot. Seriously.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
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