$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. Sean

    Illegally using public land for this is obviously a problem. But if marijuana were just legal the way it should be, this would be a moot point. Who buys their alcohol from the local moonshiner instead of going through legal avenues? No one. Who would buy their marijuana from some shady guy growing and selling it illegally on public land if there was a legal avenue for puchase? NO ONE!

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

    weed warriors unite!

    ::too high to care::

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

    If people pay $25 an 1/8 or some are willingly to pay $50 1/8 for some really good stuff....Your telling me that the Gov't wouldn't make money?...BS...Product is Product...#Enough Said....

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

      When I was a "Hop Head" smoke sold for 65.00 dollars a kilo, felony in them days no matter how much you had, joint or kilo.

      August 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    A billion dollars in potential revenue up in smoke.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. zuma

    Wonder why Colorado wasn't mention. It's a pot state too

    August 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    Gasp! You mean there's only $14 billion left to harvest?! Guess I'll have to cut back.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    Growers go to public lands to grow pot because public land is (a) public and (b) mostly remote and hard to monitor. Want to protect public lands? Stop forcing pot growers to hide.

    August 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wayne

      Marijuana is legal for medical uses in most states as they are regulated under state law. I believe Marijuana should remain illegal for recreational uses.

      People argue that Marijuana does not kill but recent studies show that marijuana related deaths such as car accidents are not in low numbers.

      Marijuana is also a gateway substance, proof? Amsterdam has one of the highest cocaine users of all western countries.

      Highschool kids already smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol even though it's illegal, add Marijuana to the list huh?

      Marijuana makes a person unproductive. Society will see a shift in productivity with marijuana in recreational uses.

      Everyone that wants Marijuana to be legal recreationally are people who smoke marijuana recreationally. Marijuana is already legal medically.

      August 22, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • jbsBoston

      @ Wayne – thanks for the stupid comment of the night to make fun of.

      – Marijuana medical or otherwise is not legal in "most" states.
      – There are no statistics that show marijuana being the primary cause of death (for anyone, ever, I think)
      – Alcohol is the gateway drug, especially for cocaine and other hard substances, not marijuana. People don't smoke weed to relax then do cocaine for the exact opposite effect.
      – High school kids already smoke pot. The difference is that kids who smoke pot don't get into cars and kill themselves/other people in accidents.
      – The most productive people I know occasionally smoke marijuana, its the people who are hungover at work who are unproductive. For the record, these people are significantly smarter than you or the people you associate with.

      Marijuana is not "legal" for people who NEED it medically. Some states have made it "legal," but the federal government stills considers it an illicit substance and those laws override the states (i.e. DEA raids in CA).

      Read a little bro.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rj

    jb they meant your mom

    August 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rich

    A golden opportunity to reduce the Federal Debt by $1B, and these morons destroyed it!

    August 22, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowdogg

      Rich... good point. At $10 a joint it would really add up!

      August 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Harry J. Anslinger

    Why is the Government bragging about destroying $1billion dollars worth of something that was once legal. If Harry Anslinger wasn't such a racist, papermill loving redneck, that $1billion dollars would be going to the economy. LEGALIZE, REGULATE,and EDUCATE. Wake up America........

    August 22, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Darrell

    While alcohol was illegal everyone who drank alcohol was a criminal. While marijuana is illegal everyone who uses marijuana is a criminal. We eliminated the problems, crime, and violence of the prohibition of alcohol by making it legal. We will solve the problems associated with marijuana by making it legal and taxing and monitoring just as we do alcohol. Our government, and those who do not like others to enjoy life have made life un-necessarily difficult and troublesome. The only problem with marijuana is the fact that it is currently illegal.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • alan_turing

      Gee, what a sensible reply. Tax it. Regulate it.

      August 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • JackO

      "We eliminated the problems, crime, and violence of the prohibition of alcohol by making it legal."

      Did we really though? I'm a recovered alcoholic and believe me, alcohol still causes tons of problems, crimes, and violence.

      August 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |


    August 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Erik in MN

    A simple argument I believe for legalization of pot: They just burned $1 billion worth of taxable plants that people have always and will always continue to buy elsewhere and smoke.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonny 5

      Great now mexico gets another billion in revenues

      August 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. larryb

    war on pot is ridiculous...texting is a bigger health issue. we continue because of the huge industries involved with drug testing and private run prisons. billions is made by these industries by keeping pot illegal

    August 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • alan_turing

      Agreed. We need to grow up as a country.

      August 22, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sand

    At Chris:

    Marijuana related car accidents are in all likelihood overstated by the DEA as the DEA needs to generate a reason for it's own existence. In any case they are totally irrelevant to the matter at hand since they apparently occur regardless of enforcement.

    If Marijuana is a 'gateway drug' it is only because many dealers sell it in addition to other controlled substances. That is a big if too, since no realistic data can ever be gleaned.

    News Flash, many high school kids are already smoking weed. Is that seriously news to you?

    You can't prove that the GDP would drop if Marijuana was legalized because frankly, it wouldn't. Workplaces don't allow people to use alcohol on the job and relevant work places would not allow employees to get stoned on the job.

    And one final thing; I have never smoked weed in my life. Not even once. I strongly oppose the madness of the so called Drug War because of the horrific loss of life it causes. Most of what comes over the southern border is weed. Over 50,000 people have died in Mexico alone due to drug related violence, mostly over a substance that you literally can not kill yourself with.

    It's time for a change people. The criminal enforcement crowd has had half a century to achieve results and has completely failed. Drugs of all kinds are available in every part of the country, Our cities have been ruined by drug related gang violence and illegal drug sales have wreaked havoc on nations across the globe.

    The reasons why are obvious to anyone who has more than a passing knowledge of abuse or enforcement. Addicts need drugs like you need food, make it harder for them to get and they aren't just going to give up they are going to do whatever it takes to get that next score. Enforcement only makes people more desperate and violent. It raises prices which in turn raises the income from dealing and makes more means of acquiring drugs viable. The cycle of escalation and failure has yielded no more results in my lifetime then it did in my parents.

    August 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JakeAZ

      thanks sand, was gonna reply to this neanderthal, but you said everything on my mind. .

      August 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
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