$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. GovequalsGenius

    So $1B of money that could have been put into the economy, add on the cost of whatever it took in resources and salaries for 6 Federal Agencies, plus whatever "local authorities" charged our govern...I mean tax payers. All to thwart a God given plant.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |

      dont forget incarceration costs for the 14 individuals probably for the rest of their lives

      August 22, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |

    i bet the government is patting it self on the back for this waste of time, tax dollars, and revenue. our government need to learn to stop fighting wars it CANNOT WIN

    August 22, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. GovequalsGenius

    You know what would keep the drug cartels from coming in and arming their people with dangerous weapons (are there any non-dangerous weapons?) and growing an illegal plant on public land? anyone? anyone? Bueller? Bueller? That's right. Make it legal already!!!

    August 22, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |

      water guns and Nerf guns

      August 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. Richard

    Yet, narry a ripple in the supply. Even if the bust had been 10 billion dollars, I doubt it would have a noticable effect..

    August 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  5. SCott

    No way 578k plants are worth 1 billion, street value!

    August 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • DrNo

      500k plants, say a small (1/4lb) yield per plant = approx $500/plant x 500k = 250 million. now nickle and dime a decent % of that and you could probably ballpark it around USD$1B total value. Ish.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      if each plant was a high-grade pound selling for 400 oz/ 6400 a plant, 578k plants would amount to 3,699,200,000, not very likely, so lets say each plant was a mature high grade plant yielding 1 pound, sold for 200oz would sell at 1,849,600,000. considering the time of the year i would imagine these plants were near maturity. divide it in half again, which is more likely than your still around 1billion.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. soldier of mithras

    silly paper industrialists/lobbyists.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. doughnuts

    I wonder how much Federal and state tax revenue that could have generated if it were legal and treated like tobacco or alcohol?

    August 22, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • hooah86

      Not to mention reduction in dope related crimes.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dr.GreenThumb

    Would you rather get drunk and into fights at sports games like we're supposed to?

    August 22, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      No, I would rather you learn to control your behavior. Don't drink so much that you lose control and get into fights! Be a responsible human being and obey the laws.

      August 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick


      August 24, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. bart

    wouldn't you be better off selling it and thus helping to reduce our deficit???Imbeciles!

    August 22, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. citizenUSA

    You all know the "estimate" value is likely several million less.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • GovequalsGenius

      several million less than a Billion is still a lot of money.

      August 22, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. Richard

    Of course, the feds are weighing the pot wet with the leaves and roots to get their "market value."

    August 22, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Voiceinthewind

    All that good weed, gone forever, what a shame. The Government should have harvested and sold it and paid down the national debt. All the people I know are still smoking so apparently destroying all that weed has done nothing to the supply chain. What a waste of assets.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Boisepoet

    So we spent tax money to destroy something that could have been sold and taxed...

    August 22, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. meeker

    its time the government realizes that weed is better off then alcohol... my brother has gotten hurt and has hurt my family just last night due to drinking and then he sped off in our family car do you think weed would do that? NO! how much money is this country shelling out due to alcohol related incidents someone figure those numbers out and youll find out leagalizing weed is the way to go when your stoned the only side effects you get is hungry sleepy happy.... seriously people come on

    August 22, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. bill

    Be realistic. One billion means there were really only four plants at the value of $250,000,000 each.
    I got mine.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
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