$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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Taxes have absolutley nothing to do with this. You cannot tax an illegal substance. Case solved. Then you'll want to tax crystal meth, xtasy, heroin, cocaine, and 200 other. And this is the way with you liberals and you communists. Case closed.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • kooolguy

      that's why you make it legal. please go get yourself an education you puppet of the establishment

      August 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Smiley

      That's about the dumbest argument I've ever heard. Gov't controls the legality behind pot, gov't controls taxes, therefore gov't controls the legality and taxation of pot.

      I'm right wing on most issues too, but legalizing pot would do lots more good than harm. Plus you need to learn how to argue. Case Closed...yeah right haha

      August 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      The tax code does not distinguish between profits on legal versus illegal products. If you sell an illegal product, you owe tax on the profit. That is how they got Capone.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      When people end a diatribe with "case closed" it indicates that they know their argument is weak and don't want to defemd it. It is the discussion equivalent of a child covering his ears and yelling loudly "la, la, la, la, i' can't heeeere you"

      August 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Also, Jeff, William F Buckley, the father of post war conservatism, had many pro pot legalization articles published in his magazine, The Natioal Review

      August 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott B

      Then you make it legal. And yes, we should make all of those other drugs legal too. And really, we shouldn't be placing some sin tax on them either, but that's the only way to motivate some of these authoritarian people. And no, I'm not liberal on most things. I"m pretty libertarian. You know, conservatives that haven't sold their soul to the religious right.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      The problem with ignorant people who throw around terms like "liberal" and "communist" without really knowing what they mean, is that it only serves to magnify their ignorance when they say things like "You cannot tax an illegal substance. Case solved."
      Ever hear of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937? It established a tax on an illegal substance..the very thing you said can't be done!
      Try again Jeff.
      Educate yourself.
      And remember, "Tis better to keep one's mouth shut & be thought the fool, than to open one's mouth & prove it."

      August 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dr. J.D. Smith MD.

    That's a lot of tax money we could use. Tax it and regulate it so the kid's don't get it. It's far easier right now for a kid to get pot than alcohol. Use the money saved from law enforcement for treatment programs and education. We managed in 20 years to cut the use of Tobacco (a far more addicting drug) in half using nothing but high taxes and education.
    It's time for some common sense, not more of the same failed policies.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We can cut drug use with education, we KNOW this works, we also know our current policy is a total failure.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Along with 1 billion in crops destroyed, everything they ever known will be siezed. Hummers, guns, gold chains with stolen Beamer hood ornaments, houses, speed boats, ATV's, electronics, cell phones, meth labs. All because of a stupid weed.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      No, Jeff, all because of a stupid prohibition

      August 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kooolguy

    congratulations federal government, you've wasted trillions uprooting a plant that grows naturally and is not manufactured. you arrest people for nature and claim the right to decide what natural substances people can and can't have. you are a disgrace to america and the founding fathers. keep pushing your pharmaceutical pills that are derived from now illegal plants and sources.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Dr. J.D. Smith MD:
    Probably not even your real name. Smith? You probably sleep around your wife with the neighbor women, and go to the motel and register as Smith?
    If that is your real name, the licensing board in your state is strongly recommended to revoke your Board Certification. Keep it up big boy. You too will be caught.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    sam stone:
    I hate liars and cheats. DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?

    August 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      jeff: you can hate whomever you wish. your arguments are weak.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chris

    Google U.S. Patent 6630507...They already know the medical benefits and that it's not dangerous but refuse to move it from the schedule 1 class just to keep you under their thumb. "Do as i say, Not as i do!!"

    August 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott B

      Yes, that is one of the most obvious hypocritical actions by our government. Weed should probably be schedule V if the actual law was followed. It most certainly doesn't match the requirements for a schedule I drug.

      August 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Iconoclast

    All this nonsense would disappear overnight if the Feds would just legalize it and end the war on drugs. There is no excuse for perpetuating this costly, wasteful lingering remnent of Nixonian policy. I'm fortunate to live in Colorado and look forward to voting yes on amendment 64 in November. If it passes (and it may very well) I look forward to challenging the federal government to go to hell and get the DEA out of our lives. The end to this madness has to start somewhere and I'm proud it may very well be Colorado that starts the landslide.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Good luck with that challenge. I think there are other states pursuing it, including my own (Michigan)

      August 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      sam: at least you have medical up there. That is a step in the right direction.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      clay: sure, a step. pot prohibition will be over relatively soon. the young people are overwhelmingly in favor of it

      August 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Never2old

      I agree!!! There are several issues that legalizing would rectify. The prison system is over full due to the numerous amounts of indviduals only behind bars for life or 2 yrs for having weed nothing but weed when we have child molesters running the roads. The DEA needs to concentrate on Meth, pills, crack, and many other street drugs. Do they not realize that these drug dealers and cartels seem to be a lot smarter over the yrs in this war. So two men are pulled over on I-10 wth 15lbs of weed, but while every cop in the vacinity are at that vehicle waitiing on the news clipping another car just passed by with 500 lbs of meth or pills. It is just not worth it to fight marijuana anymore the costs out weighs the end result.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Like other Republicans, I follow people with integrity. Not you or these other animals.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, integrity...been toe tapping in the airport washroom lately?

      August 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      You mean people with integrity like Darrel Issa? The guy who's suspected of insurance fraud & arson?

      August 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kimberley McLean

    How about harvesting all this marijuana and using it for pharmacuetical purposes? That way, the people who need it will get high-grade medicinals at a reasonable price. A far better idea than opiods.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sidewinder

    "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."

    What a bunch of propaganda BS. Far more damage is done to the environment by flying your dirty damn helicopters about incessantly. The trash is being left by your DEA thugs, not by us...ahem, I mean those peaceful, nature loving, pot growers.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Incredulous Reader

    Using those numbers, doesn't that work out to about $1730 per plant? Where in the world do we get these figures?

    August 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Even More Incredulous Reader

      Even at 1/10th or 1/100th of this value for what is really a very common plant I would understand why people do this. Does this mean that, by the government's reckoning these plants produce over 100 lbs of pot per plant? We should be hiring these growers to solve world hunger!

      August 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cherries

    I'm all for legalizaton, but have one huge concern as far as the revenue it would create. We give the government SO much in taxes every year and they blow it, what will they do with more money? I think they'd just blow that, too.

    August 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott B

      Such is the problem with government. None of our representatives want to actually fix the spending and efficiency side of the problem though. Those don't win votes. In fact, they lose votes by upsetting companies and special interests that rely on government waste. If we can't fix the problem, we might as well increase revenue. If weed were legalized, the price would come down to such an extent that an exorbitant tax could be applied to it and prices would still be much lower than the current black market prohibition has created.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mackn2u

    So they just killed a perfectly good economic stimulus plan? Way to go feds!

    August 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kerry

    All that lost revenue for a courtly drowning in debt.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
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