$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. nitrous

    Could have help reduce the deficit if they brought it to market...

    August 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mic

    While Monsanto's herbicides and pesticides are being heavily used over the food crops. Those chemicals destroy the land. No one complains about that?

    August 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mic

    @ mcwsunshine. Cannabis need not be smoked! It is a medicine that can also be ingested in other ways and even used topically.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fast Fred

    It's just strange they allow and tax something that we know will kill you...Booze and cigaretts.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lucy Gal

    amazing isn't it. so many people so very confused. study the subject before you post. know your info, don't rely on hear say handed to you by unreliable sources. you don't have to smoke it to see what is happening here. BostonMonkey, really, do some research, you missed a big part...you want to discuss longterm damage you are on the wrong story. look to oil. reality check needed.

    August 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. commonsenze

    1 billion. Think if the gov flipped that and sold it. Billions. That. Easy.

    August 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lifesabeachobx

    The Number #1 cast crop in the State of Virginia is......you guessed it.....4:20

    August 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • lifesabeachobx

      "cash"....no edit on this blog...

      August 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      I flip flop on my opinion about whether it should be legal or not. I agree its a lot of money for little apparent effect on trafficking. However, my bigger head scratching issue is why people feel the need to use the stuff in the first place. Getting high is not a necessity, it solves no problems, medical marijuana has dubious value, and all it does is create other issues. Additionally, I have a problem with someone smoking a joint and driving. Mind you, I have just as big an issue with someone drinking and driving. The fact remains, however, that drinking moderate amounts of red wine has proven health benefits. There is no evidence the same can be said for marijuana despite all the High Times opinions and rants of smokers. So let's see, it impairs judgement and has health issues. Yes, sure, I see why everyone wants to make it legal. Using the argument that tobacco and alcohol are just as bad is lame. Used in excess, alcohol is bad, tobacco is just plain bad. Use the billions we spend on marijuana eradication efforts on weening people off the stupid crutch. Grow a set and stop using it – problem solved.

      August 29, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Clarissa

      You are not getting the bigger issue of the legality of marijuana. The fact that it stil remains illegal and thousands of young people are incarcerated every single year for possessing small amounts WHILE the scientific evidence reports there is not many harmful things about it. The government allows us to purchase and consume alcohol and tobacco after thousands of people die from those alone. It just doesn't make much sense unless you realize people on top are profiting from it being illegal.

      August 29, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      legal pot would result in less alcohol being consumed.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      also, chuck, people use pot because it feels good. have you ever smoked a joint?

      August 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      "The fact remains, however, that drinking moderate amounts of red wine has proven health benefits."

      How about 12 packs of beer?

      fifths of whiskey?

      half gallons of vodka?

      "There is no evidence the same can be said for marijuana despite all the High Times opinions and rants of smokers"

      Really? And the medical organizations that say that marijuana does have a health benefit you dismiss out of hand?

      August 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Menfield

      "Marijuana law just creates criminals"


      Make love not war on Drugs!

      August 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. les

    Why not harvest it and hand it over to the Compassion Clubs? Meanwhile you can still purchase cigarettes and booze....

    August 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • william

      $ 1 billion wasted. They could have sold it, taxed it at 20%, and walked away with a cool $200 million for the coffers. Why do we allow these idiots to do this?

      August 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    Yes the country is in terrible debt but let's just burn up a BILLION dollars worth of a valuable commodity... keep dreaming that the war on drugs is winnable and keep denying that pot is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol and prescription drugs that people use responsibly every day. legalize it, tax it and lets live in reality for a bit and see how it works!

    August 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Typical

      Seriously! I bet those medical marijuana facilities in Cali and other states would appreciate the free contributon. This countries priorities are mixed up.

      August 29, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. LBGA

    On the flip side of the money wasted on this 'War' , not unlike all the others, one of the most versatile materials known,
    hemp is outlawed as well. The money that has been lost to this fact is staggering.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. worldcares

    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.

    There are many species of Cannabis sativa.

    Hemp played a big part in our history and still does.

    As far as growing it, for recreational activity, I would think one would want to be more discreet, if they want to grow it for personal use.

    The wild hemp , was and can be used for fibers as they did in the past.

    August 29, 2012 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. koali

    It's the poison part that I hate to read. Anyone remember paraquat?

    August 29, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
    • sam stone

      i do

      ff i remeber correctly, i think it was during the ford administration

      August 30, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. mcp123

    All I gotta say is....murderers.... you could of sold all that and made alot of money for the government.

    August 29, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Doug

    Keep wasting tax dollars on something that has no longterm effects..How about the soldiers over seas who havent seen there families in monts,or the hurricane destroying New Orleans again.Those are good reasons to spend tax money not a damn plant that can grow with no human help....

    August 29, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Typical

    Environmental problems?? It is marijuana, it is grown in the ground naturally. It is about as much of an environmental danger as the trees growing next to them. It isn't like those meth labs that blow up around the U.S. It is a dang plant.

    August 29, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Jaackson

      Marijuana doesn't cause environmental problems, and yes it grows naturally. the hazardous waste left behind from the growers does. the streams they divert to serve as water sources for their grow ops does. Mexican drug cartels send out citizens of mexico who's families are kidnapped and held as an insurance policy, as to make sure the normal mexican citizens (whom cross illegally, make their way to northern cali and set up grow ops on the sides of mountains and in state parks) will come back to mexico with their cash crop. do some research on the article your reading next time. it was called "Operation Mountain Sweep"

      August 29, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
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