$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. Jason


    How much money could the federal gvt make? How many jobs could be created through the Dept of Homeland Weed Distribution.

    I mean seriously. Mitt Romney doesn't want to give the gov't any money in taxes – let them have their pot and smoke it, too. And ... if you don't like this idea – don't buy it. Don't smoke it. But – don't complain when it lowers the unemployment rate and puts food on your table and gas in your car and pays your bills.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bobbert

    Yes farming is sooooo dangerous. (sarcasm)
    Tax and regulate it!

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

    see what you think

    578000 plants .
    Ive heard of plants producing about a pound if they are well taken care of so let just assume

    Street price We have 578000 pounds
    go to the corner buy a gram for 10 bucks some people will pay twice for something that is corner dirt weed
    ~440 grams in a pound
    4,440 per pound street price
    2.5563 billion
    now tax that 100 percent

    in my eyes the government destoyed 5 billion+ worth of merchandise.
    I am in favor of legalization as long as we can keep it out of the hands of the cartels hands. Legalize and build a bigger fence and and force them in the tunnels. they can only dig so far.

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


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

    We are all total losers. Period! Look at the Arab Spring..there are people who have won against well armed dictatorial governments, gained democracy – and we haven`t been able to have a silly plant decriminalized for the last 50-60 years. Don`t get me started on the occupy wall street movement. Don`t blame the government...blame ourselves.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • easye123

      The prohibitionists refuse to even debate it!!! What are we to do, go to war over it?

      August 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • easye123

      If I am arrested for it, will you storm the courtroom and the jailhouse and demand my release?

      August 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • San

      are you saying picking up arms is the only way to do it? We need some kind of leadership...a Gandhi for pot.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • San

      We need a movement – against the prohibitionists – the government and the drug lords. It`s about time.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • easye123

      If I knew the answer, I would have already done it. NORML has been around for as long as I can remember, and their progress has been minimal to say the least. There's also LEAP, and they're not making much progress either. I have to wonder if they're even interested in getting it legalized... I mean, the money well will dry up, in terms of donations, once it's legal. Prohibition of MJ is blatant oppression, and it needs to end now.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marijuana is the Tree of Life

      Usain Bolt smoked Marijuana and became the fastest man on Earth.
      Michael Phelps smoked Marijuana and became the fastest man in water.
      Barack Obama smoked Marijuana and became the President of the United States.

      God Bless Marijuana and the Great Humans it helps to create...!

      August 23, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama is a LIAR

      Marijuana made Obama great – Hypocrisy made him a one term president.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dick Pepperwood

    Pot > Guns

    August 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dick Pepperwood

    Nugs > Guns

    August 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kormallain

    It would have been better, if the headline read: $1 billion in pot harvested in raids on federal lands,was sold and taxed

    August 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mythos

    The gov't wouldn't of bother these guys if they paid their "dues." It's all about making money and not about protecting the public. PETA, Human Society, animal lovers should be all over this....hippies go out there and destory these nature and animal killing pot farms....oh wait 🙂

    August 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. isolate

    All that potential tax revenue up in smoke....

    August 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tony

    I got the munchies just reading this story.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. THX1953

    Al Capone is laughing from his grave.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. landers

    it's funny how our country needs a lot of money, and yet we just destroyed $1 billion worth of product. Someone wants this country to die, but who's the real bad guy here pulling all the strings?

    August 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. todd

    It's all about money and the govt. helping GW Pharmecuticals form a monopoly. The sublingual spray Sativex is expected to be released sometime around the first of the year in the US. It is already available in the UK and several other countries. Sativex (1:1 THC to CBD) will be schedule 2 or 3, while cannabis will remain schedule 1. The Feds are already working on cornering the US market by closing down all the legal medical marijuana dispensaries in California. It is well past time we educate our parents, grand-parents, neighbors and co-workers. Those of you posting need to get up and advocate for what you believe in!

    August 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Computer Scientist

    Pheeww! I can finally walk around NYC feeling safe, because I know that with all this pot out of the way, there will be no more crime!

    August 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
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