$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. Ha! Ha! Fire and Paraquat - Winning combination

    The stuff they burned is just a sneek preview of comming search warrants.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ha! Ha! Fire and Paraquat - Winning combination

    The dought has spawned some pretty serious wildfires, endangering property and human life. But this? This is funny news. They had to light off the pot. Fate had the plant to be burned "anyways". Mother nature is on one huge buzz right now.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ha! Ha! Fire and Paraquat - Winning combination

    One billion in pot was burned. Cool! Let's see what else we can burn. 🙂

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

    No problem. Those who want drugs will find much more potent and dangerous chemicals to ingest, snort, or smoke instead of marijuana.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chris

    Not a drug user myself, but the government should harvest and sell these crops for profit (legal use only) to reduce the national debt.

    August 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • wheels

      thats a great fricken idea.

      August 22, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      The national debt is to the tune of 14 trillion dollars. They said they destroyed $1 Billion dollars worth of marijuana. That would hardly make a dent even if that were all profit. That wouldn't all be profit because I can't imagine that harvesting, marketing, and transporting it would be free. Let's work on viable solutions like tax reforms and curtailing government spending.

      August 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maxingermany

      @ Dave... you're right. a thousand million dollars is chump change

      August 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sylar75

      Dave, it might hardly make a dent but its better then burning 1 billion dollars now isn't it? Legalize it, tax it, and use the revenue for good. How many billions of dollars are generated off of alcohol every year?

      August 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • carbonunit003

      Before dismissing the idea of selling the seized green, how about adding to that. Let's stop the failed drug war that costs many billions (possibly into the 100's, but I'm not going to research it for a forum post) in hunting drug dealers/cartels, arresting marijuana manufacturers, and imprisoning users with any measurable amount of certain substances. For too long the public has believed that the government can protect us and our children from drugs, but it has ultimately failed. We should have learned from prohibition that criminalizing a popular substance only creates black market demand. The failure of the people and the government to recognize this helped a great deal in the establishment of the cartels, which now are engaged in paramilitary/terrorist operations. If we cut off the demand for a clandestine supply my legalizing and controlling drugs, we gain many benefits. 1. Hundreds of thousands, possibly into the millions of less people in jail for minor drug offenses. 2. Billions saved from futile enforcement efforts. 3. Revenue generated from taxation of drugs and non-criminal fines where appropriate. 4. More money freed up to go to treatment instead of incarceration. 5. Hundreds of billions of funding cut off from terrorist cartels.
      I won't get into a long philosophical debate about this, but think about it. How many people will run out and do heroin if it suddenly became legal? Probably the same people who were doing it anyway. More importantly, people have a right to decide for themselves what to ingest. Any sane person will not use hard drugs because it is common knowledge that it is dangerous. The risk that a few people will, without thinking at all, become addicts is low. It all boils down to personal responsibility, something we are currently not entrusted with when it comes to our health.

      August 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sylar75

      Lets not forget the savings for not having to lock up people convicted of minor pot related charges. 30k a year is the average spending for an inmate. Plus if it was legal, a lot more people would smoke it, raising the income generated. The only reason I don't touch the stuff is I like my job. If it was legal I would spend a few bucks a month on it for sure. And by a few, I mean hundreds ha ha.

      August 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sylar75

      carbonunit003. Someone with some sense. Well said!!!

      August 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. KLF

    I heard today that 40% of the food grown, cooked and purchased is thrown away in the United States. This vary 40% rerquires the use of 25% of the water and affiliated raising costs. Not that it has anyuthing to do with smoking weed but I'm just sayin'. That's f'd up!

    August 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • KLF

      I need to do a spell check before hitting send, next time...

      August 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zman

    I say legalize it and so we do not have to lay off all these people get them out there eradicating a real dangerous plan.....poison ivy.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. easye123

    Freedom to do as I please with my own person is the big attraction. Smoking pot is a pleasure that I myself enjoy, and I feel that I've earned the right to enjoy it. I've earned a Masters degree in business, make well over 6 figures, and have served my country – can you say you've accomplished the same?. Its none of your business what I do, and you should stop being a chump about it. I'm sure you do some things that I disapprove of, but who am I to criticize you as long as you aren't doing harm to others. That's the true American way.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. corpsegrind3r

    Just wait, my friends... with the younger generation mostly seeing through the bs and hypocrisy, marijuana will eventually become legalized. With all of the negative impacts that alcohol has, how can marijuana be illegal? For everyone that has smoked, we understand that it just does not make sense. Save prison space and taxpayer money for true criminals: murderers, rapists, corporate CEO's. All of the problems come with the illegalization of a drug (hmm, remember prohibition?). Unfortunately, we'll probably have to wait for the older generation to die off. Ya know, the same people that think "Reefer Madness" is legitimate. Unfortunately, that crowd votes, and we probably need to motivate the stoner crowd to get to the voting booth. Maybe we can all do our part and donate free munchies at the voting booths. But GIVE ME A BREAK, LEGALIZE IT, LET PEOPLE CHOOSE. /END RANT

    August 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. primatica

    i can't wait to be able to pay taxes on my use...I want that money to go towards schools

    August 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. some dude

    And the streets became safer, said no one.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • corpsegrind3r

      Explain your vision of how legalized weed would make the world a dangerous place? I am quite intrigued...

      August 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      A couple of ways legalized marijuana would make the world safer? We would see a huge reduction in drug cartels' power. If you don't see the logic there, you're beyond help. We would also see a huge reduction in citizens entering prison as non-violent offenders and coming out as hardened criminals. Those are the first two off of the top of my head.

      August 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Oops, I misread your response where you misread his post. That's a lot of misreading.

      August 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. primatica

    you know how many cars could get fill up with all that hemp oil?

    August 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. larry,oakland,ca

    Tax it and sell it. Stop the WAR. It is costing too much money to pay for all the people in jail (costing close to $40k/yr per fed inmate) and all the mondy spent on eradication efforts is wasted. Pot grows just about everywhere.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Let the potheads out of the closet

    One day we will figure out that a person personal preference is their right and not the government. Remember it's "We the People"

    August 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • edward

      should be personal choice as it doesn't harm other people. It would cut crime and violence down. Borders would see less traffic as well.

      August 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. angeson

    those numbers are BS. $2000 a plant get real. a lot of plants dont produce $50 worth. Liar liar.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cogito

      If you're growing plants with $50 worth of bud, you don't know what you're doing...

      August 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
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