$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. Fish

    What a waste... Harvest it, make it legal, make billions off the taxes, reduce the deficit.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. franko sandiego

    This is a high demand,, high value crop – like wine., but there is a reason that you don't see people grwing vinyards on public land... In the final analysis,, this will make no difference in the big picture. The best thing that can be said of it is that it keeps alot of folks employed in all sorts of fat government jobs with pensions..

    August 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve


    August 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill Maher

    Destroy away. We'll grow more.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Peaceful Pete

    The Drug Enforcement Administration said last week that 55 unnamed companies now hold licenses to grow cannabis in the United States, a fact that contradicts the widespread belief that there is only one legal pot farm in America, operated under the DEA for research purposes. It appears as if the upswing in federally approved pot farming is about feeding the need of pharmaceutical companies who want to produce a generic version of THC pill Marinol and at least one other cannabis-based pill for a wide variety of new uses.

    In other words, if big corporations grow dope with the government and put it in a pill, it's medicine. But if you grow it at home or at a city-permitted pot farm and then put it in a vaporizer, it's a felony.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sylar75

    My reasoning for legalizing it. Has anyone heard someone mutter this phrase.... "my dad used to beat me because he was a pothead". Or "just stay away from John, he is an angry pothead". No? Replace pothead with drunk. Now we can all relate.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Emerald Laughter

    Headline Should Read: "For Lack of Imagination Feds Waste a Billion Dollars"

    August 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. skarphace

    Feds: Hmmm .. we could tax this crop and make 150 million in tax revenues, or we could just burn it. Burn, it is!

    August 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Damn straight! They are so stupid!!!

      August 22, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kolobians4romney

    Wow so it is better to keep wasting tax dollars trying to fix something that can't be fixed VS making it legal and taxing it to help pay down our deficits? Wake up people!

    August 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RodRoderick

    (visually picturing a pot plant destroying a tree....)

    August 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SMM

    "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."

    A lot of our food is grown the same way, sometimes in much worse conditions/with worse consequences (Food, INC the movie–something EVERYONE should watch). The same could be said for tobacco grown anywhere.

    Please legalize and tax this! Oh wait, Big Pharm and Big Lumber (hemp can be used for all sorts of things) can't have that >:\

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

      Exactly. The government failed at prohibition, but Corporations are quite good at it.

      August 22, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Coflyboy

    This is just stupid, what a waste of time and money. Instead of destroying the crops, we could have built a whole new regulated industry creating job, exports. We could have used the crop to make alternative fuels and organic clothing. We could have reduced prison populations. These kind of stupid acts just convinces me that Americans get lobotomized shortly after birth, creating the population our government wants

    August 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TrueGrissel

    What a waste of revenue this government could of generated bagging and selling it For Medicinal Purposes.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sean

    Legalize it already!

    August 22, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • TrueGrissel

      Sean<<< no keep it illegal but have a loophole, government like them, seize the crop, bag and distribute thru a government dispensary for medical purposes. Will save billions on medication and make billions in sales and create employment, only if it is kept illegal.

      August 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TomGI

    In honor of "Operation Mountain Sweep" I'm going to knock off for the day, roll up a fatty of my special blend, load my Labrador in the truck and head up to Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierras for 3 or 4 hours of float tube fishing. Stop by and have a celebratory puff, I'll be there.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
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