$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. thought

    Headline should have just read "US Government Holds A Billion Dollar Bonfire"

    August 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WhatElseIsNEw

    So what? You should see New York, Texas or California... America the beautiful... It's pervasive. Where have you been? Scoudrels in our government are bleeding us dry BEFORE all those retiring baby boomers demand retirement welfare. They're looting America. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. ESCAPE WHILE YOU CAN.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Highly Motivated

    Keep marijuana illegal. It causes people to commit cimes like robbery and murder.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      you have no stats to back that theory up....really just a bunch of propaganda.

      But here are some actual stats on a drug that is legal to purchase anywhere – Alcohol.

      Each year approximately 16,000 are killed in alcohol related crashes
      Over 40% of fatal automobile accidents are alcohol-related
      Approximately 30% of Americans will be in an accident involving alcohol
      According to estimates, someone is injured in an alcohol-related accident every two minutes
      Alcohol has been linked to 75,000 deaths annually.

      Yet this substance is still legal. Why? MONEY

      August 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Never2old

      I am not approving or condoning what anyone does on their personal time. Hey smokie it if you got it and can, but the comment that Pot causes murder and burglaries in not factual at all. The only thing that I can see a pot smoker murdering or stealing is a powder doughnut, maybe some Fruity pebbles, and some sleep. No one is ever just happy anymore with anything. So the govt. siad they burnt up 1 billion dollars worth of weed okay!! Well if they would have dug it up and said okay we are selling this to have other things made out of the weed and make a profit then of course there would be signs, and rallies blah blah blah!!!!

      August 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      PROHIBITION causes those things, not cannabis.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GuestToo

    My daughter just ended an intership with the U.S. Forest Service in the midwest. She said these plants grow naturally all over the place. She even came across some while there and brought a sample for her class assignment. It really is a "WEED". So does the U.S. Govenrment plan to go around the country and eliminate a weed? Seems like a waste of tax dollars.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Guerrila growing....toss your sees out in the woods

      August 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ORChuck

      The plant that is found growing wild in many parts of America is not the same as what commercial growers plant. Part of the damage done by these illegal growing operations may be the introduction of this new invasive species.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      The problem here is contamination of the soil in which these illegal pot farming are done. If you just watch how they cultivate, maintain and harvest these pots, you would agree on what the federal and state government have to destroy. The habitat in these lands are vulnerable to pollution and human waste of those illegals to watch over these pot farms. Not counting the danger for one camper or jogger or the like to go to the woods and find out that they can get killed. These illegals have arms and they will kill...

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

      I don't always have seeds in my weed. But when I do, I throw them where they might have a chance to grow.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alcoholiday

      It is strange case of outlawing nature – doesn't make a lot of sense.

      The negetive effects on the enviroment are just another reason that outlawing pot is ridiculas. Not to mention the state the economy is in – do we really need to destroy another billion dollars?

      August 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      Susan: This is a result of prohibition

      August 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigDog's 81's

      @Susan Ok but if this growing a plant wasn't considered a crime than their wouldn't be the need for people doing what you say they are in the second part of your comment.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cali-W

      Ok, according to this article.. it was a billion dollar bust. If you crunch the numbers, they are saying each plant costs 1,730$ and change. Maybe at full blown maturity would that be the price. At Medical stores in Cali, plants can be purchased for 5-25$ (great strains) – Not FULL GROWN- So consider that as you may. All I gotta say about marijuana is that it is a proven product for medical use. It helps a lot of people. It causes way less problems than alcohol. It is far less harmful to the body and like many have stated, violence rarely occurs. Recently the the media has been painting a picture that Marijuana synthetics cause madness. Crazy behavior. Part of that whole Bath Salts things. They are trying to give any excuse to eliminate Marijuana by saying this does this... so the real thing must be bad. We could be saving a billion alone on jail space and police work a year, and turing a very high profit. However the GOP and conservative base will never allow this as they will stand by their archaic biblical morals.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mandy

    Legalize it and get over it!

    August 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Pooface

      Yeah, that's $1 billion in revenue they could have had added to the economy; taxed revenue, as well.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Flach

      Legalize it. I am all for it. This billion is only a small fraction of the marijuana in the US and Mexico. Tax it, regulate it. Let people buy it just like alcohol and tobacco. Smoke responsibly!

      August 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. oldpatriot

    Pot – Just like alcohol except without the hangover and the violence!

    August 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Juls

    Just legalize..and we will stop with billion here and billion there...just saying..

    August 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt

    Man...at least he did not say something STUPID like "we took a terrible drug off the streets" today, although I wish he had and it was something else. STOP THE MADNESS! LEGALIZE ALREADY! IT'S 2012!!!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Capt. GJW

    Another example of my tax dollars being squandered. Legalize it. Regulate it. Tax it. Fire 3/4 of the DEA. Empty half of our prisons. Is there any question that the government, even with every every other government program remaining intact and its spending static, would be able to reduce our deficit and debt substantially?

    August 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hillbillynwv

    The government does'nt want you to kick back on the back porch after work and smoke a joint because they cannot find a way to control it like alcohol........period!

    August 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott B

      It can be controlled identically. Some people will grow on their own just as people brew their own beer or make moonshine. No one is suggesting to go back to prohibition because of that.

      August 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shelly

    What a waste of weed! Our Government is made up of clowns.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jim

    Legalize it!

    August 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff

    When are we going to end this pointless war on pot? Ever know a single person that wasn't able to purchase pot because of the war on drugs? We have been doing it for as long as I can remember and whoever wants it can get it.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kyle

    The government is just wasting their time.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tilmeismoney

    So how many billions did the gubment spend to destroy some good weed? Why don't they just sell it? To bad it already went to seed.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
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