$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. easye123

    What in the hell is it going to take to get MJ legal? Getting just about fed up with government meddling with my private life and thinking it can tell me what I can and cannot do. I was not born to serve government, and I don't owe government anything.

    August 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rags

    578,000 destroyed. Or was that 578,002? Damn, now I have to count them again! But wait! They're already destroyed. But that's OK, our government never knows how to count. I mean can they be expected to worry about a couple thousand when they cannot keep track of more than that. What's a trillion here or another trillion there?
    We running short? Crank up the printing presses.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Congressman

    Pot will never be legalized as long as the cartels continue to contribute millions to Obama's reelection campaign through shadow companies disguided as abortion clinics.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mrs. Jones

      Amen to that...I say legalize the cartels and let them run things. The private sector will do a much better job than the government in controlling this.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      I was going to ask how you could say something so incredibly idiotic, but then i noticed you were a Congressman...that explains everything.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dap

    Maybe instead of destroying the marijuana the gov't should have harvested it and sold it to help pay down the debt.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike1234

      I am shocked Obama has not moved to legalize weed.
      Instead, his DOJ is much more aggressive in prosecuting legal marijuana farms.
      What a hypocrite, he probably smokes the best kb out behind the White House 🙂

      August 22, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • shuffma

      No, we should just burn $1 billion worth of product. Who wants to decrease the debt ceiling?? That's just crazy.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • cobra

      Ovomit just increased the unemployment rate.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich G. Maine

      What a sick World that we live in, sell the product, tax it, I'm a totally sick of this crap, tired of the government wasting on our tax dollars on something you will not win. I just cringe when I see this almost on a daily basis. The DEA and whomever, smiling and thinking they are doing us a favor, buddy you're not. It will not end. Thank you.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. xona anox

    “The DEA is a cancerous tumor on the body America. It serves no useful purpose other then to insure that organized crime and street gangs have unlimited amounts of money. It should be disbanded and its people forced to find real jobs, rather then sponging of the public as they perform a totally useless function. The war on drugs has been a monumental failure; its costs of hundreds of billions of dollars which could have been spent on American education and infrastructure repair instead has been squandered by the stupidity of the bureaucratic mind that is the U. S. Government.”

    August 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Helen

      Totally agree!

      August 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hassan

      Totally agree, It's all down to Race, reason why alcohol is legal is that its part of the Anglo Saxon culture and religion and Marijuana has been grown and produced by people of color.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. phneutral

    Can cause more questioning of authority That's what the Feds are afraid of.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cynical Vet

    ......and just how much did this operation cost us, the taxpayer?

    I say legalize it all....everything...let Darwinism take its course and disband the DEA. Route their budget to help with real issues. I'm sick and tired of manufactured crime waves over something that should be an individual choice, especially pot.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. oyvey

    I feel safer already. geez. Another waste of time with help of bureaucrats

    August 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alyssa

    Legalize it already. Take the power away from the illegal growers.

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

    I love how they complain that

    "“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."

    Just make it legal and this would never happen. YOU are the problem sir.

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

      I assume that the environmental impact would just disappear if it was legal?

      August 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radical Centrist

      Bermille: Yes, or rather it would settle down to having the same environmental impact level of your veggie garden, and at that point the impact of your garden is up to you, so it can still be bad but that's only if you make it so. The impact this story referred to was the growers who are merely profiteers exploiting a way to make lots of money who cause damage to forests, etc. because they don't care about anything except the money. They aren't likely to continue doing that if there's no money in it, see?

      August 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Helen

    What a waste of good pot!

    August 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dean

    You can triple the haul just raid the illegal state sponsored stores and grow gardens. Its all illegal so tax them, take the money, close them down...jail them and fine them and make more money. How stupid do you have to be to open an illegal business.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radical Centrist

      You don't know how the real world operates, apparently. Don't believe everything you read in the news, it's not always as it seems. But I did get a kick out of the phrase "illegal state sponsored stores." Technically it's correct, but it IS kind of funny to have something be both illegal and state-sponsored. Or maybe it's the state itself that's illegal?

      Besides, if the Federal Gov't passed a law saying you had to jump off a bridge, would you? If you wouldn't, would that be because you think the law is unjust, morally indefensible, and a violation of your personal freedom?

      August 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. carlin123

    I guarantee you every DEA agent stood in the smoke while the stuff was burning.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jack 3


    August 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jack 3

    Well, I guess the only winner here is the Mexican Mafia. That billion dollars will go to them now. they thank Obama.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Radical Centrist

      The biggest reason they're finding these mega-farms way out in the forests is because the Mexican grower/smugglers have moved a lot of their growing to within our borders because these days it's easier to grow it here than to smuggle it here. Plenty of people not affiliated with the Mexican cartels do it too, but most of these ridiculously large operations are set up and run by Mexican cartels.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack 3

      Radical centrists. I've heard that before. Maybe that's why we should legalize it. it would be more plentiful and wouldn't be so profitable for the cartels. I'm really not sure as to what percentage the cartels run, are you. I'll bet it's small at this point.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
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