$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. WhutThe

    What? You registered yourself as a federal law breaker? Are you stoned or what?

    August 22, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Toddmw

    They shut down a pot farm in Death Valley? Really? Something like pot can even grow there ? Wow if I were trying to plant an isolated illegal pot farm I can understand maybe getting into the mountainous back country and doing it there but geeeeZZzz Death Valley?? Did not think anything grew there except sand and rocks !

    August 22, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • TMA

      Pot is an enduring plant; Sativa strains grow in hot climates; tropics, deserts. Indicas grow in colder climates.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. poisonousroot

    And what do you think the enterprise of booze creates in the form of land destruction, waste and chemicals in the water ways, son? As if this pot dream you have is a bust on the enviornment. Hell, go to the internet and look up Plastic Oceans. That's the treat that may eventually put you and yours on the cancer ward list.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • poisonousroot

      The point is marijauna is everywhere. Has been for decades. You can stamp on it, beat it, chase it, wasted billions fighting against the myth but, like the booze circus of the 20s and 30s, you are only chasing your tail. Many Texas schools are wastelands for education and yet the yahoos here spend a fortune chasing the weed ghosts. Never forget the myth of locking down booze in the earlier generations. Barcardi rum sold more rum in the roaring 20s than they ever did previous to that time, and a Texas women got rich running speakeasies in Texas and New York because of prohibitions. And why you are at it anti-high fans, why don't you put you talk where your ignorance is; why not put alcohol back into the prohitibion standars. See how much of a hell you create then.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Your ignorance is astounding you hav eno idea what your talking about but that's what's to be expected from the frightened.

      August 22, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. J.R>

    How about this.......this article is half crap, half Bs propaganda. Anyone who does any real looking into the matter will know that hemp is an awesome alternative fuel source, and an awesome product that can produce many things that are normally produced by cotton. They will also note that the oil industry along with other robber barons saw the potential and had it outlawed. Lets not goin into the statistics about the amount of alcohol related deaths as compared to "Marijuana" deaths (not talking about crime) They just wasted tons of money by desroying this crop, the bud is the only part smoked. They could have used the rest of the plant for many other things, and then sold those by products.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • rmkzoo

      Pot plants & Hemp are about as similar as corn is to wheat, (both grasses by the way). Hemp certainly has it's uses but don't let the conspiracy theorists overbake this one. Pot was made illegal by the same generation of people that decided alcohol should be banned. The only difference is that there were 100x more drinkers than smokers & prohibition of alcohol was eventually defeated by popular demand.

      Anyone who claims that pot is less dangerous than alcohol is dreaming & there's piles of science to show otherwise. Everyone reading this knows plenty of "casual" drinkers who function without issues. Now take a close and honest look at the pot smokers you know & see if you can say the same.

      If you are a smoker yourself, the test results will be invalid. I was never able to tell the difference until long after I quit smoking and 20+ years later when I meet up with frends who still do, it's truly a sad thing to see as their entire life revolves around getting/maintaining their medical marijuana cards.

      Marijuana is a drug with legitimate uses and should be controlled / distributed as such. Just don't fall for the BS that there isn't a cost to society for it's "casual" use.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • JDS

      578,000 plants...learn to comprehend what you read

      August 22, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. rick

    Prohibition breed crime, CO

    August 22, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. BangingMyHeadAgainstAWall

    I decided to put some real numbers to this, because I'm annoyed. Let's say all of this was sold in Florida, where I am at the current time. Down here in Florida, the NORMAL sales tax rate is 6%. So that is 60 Million Dollars of potential revenue about to be destroyed by the Feds. In Florida, they are proposing cutting $87 Million from substance abuse programs in the budget because of shortfalls. This would go a long way to helping that. In FY 2011, $56,563,598 went to prevention and detox treatments for children and adults. So this $60 Million could easily cover the prevention and detox of much more serious and dangerous drugs.

    Now, if you really think about it, they won't leave the tax rate at the minimum sales tax rate. Marijuana is a commodity that can be taxed at a much higher rate to simulate the current experienced supply & demand costs. If it were legalized tomorrow, the cost would hypothetically plummet. Post-legalization marijuana could easily absorb a tax styled on the NY Cigarette tax which comes in somewhere between 80-120%. Using the Average of 100% tax, this would be a billion dollars wasted. This is an amount nearly equal to the amount cut from the Florida budget from education last fiscal year due to budget shortfalls. I can tell you with scientific certainty that an extra billion spent on education would be demonstrably more beneficial to society than destroying this product. This doesn't even begin to address the extra societal costs of criminal regulation including incarceration of marijuana users and the difficulty that they would have obtaining employment with an arrest record. Furthermore, government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, which was involved in this raid, could spend more of their resources doing trivial, unimportant things like catching ACTUAL terrorists.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. mdn

    It's 578 THOUSAND plants. Read the article when your sober.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Confusedandbewildered

    And in other news today, the Feds spent $millions$ to eradicate plants. I guess domestic products were once again interferring with the cheap imports. Our politicians and their cronies and backers don't like that!!

    Stupid is as stupid does, and we have a large Federal deficit because?

    August 22, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. us_1776

    Isn't the definition of "insanity" doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result?

    Well, how about doing the same thing for over 40 years and expecting a different result.

    The War on Drugs is a complete and utter failure.

    You can no more keep drugs out of the U.S. than you can keep air out of the U.S.

    Marijuana is used as a recreational intoxicant like alcohol by tens of millions of Americans and has been for decades.

    When you have a market this large you will always have people and ways to service this market.

    This is why prohibition does not work. And in fact, prohibition of intoxicants has never worked anywhere at any time.

    The U.S. is missing a massive opportunity to collect taxes on all of these marijuana sales.



    August 22, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. penguins42

    *578,000 plants. I love how people come up with those BS numbers.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. awooff

    Agreed! Let the states have their tax money from legal sales. Let the police focus on more important issues like meth and illegal prescription drug sales.

    August 22, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |

    That's 1B that could have gone to the gov't to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Military & Space Exploration, Crumbling Infrastructure, Police, Fire, Border Security.

    No. It's stupid to legalize something that is on par with Alcohol and make money from it. Stupid.

    Then again, most politicians aren't the smartest of the bunch, ae they?

    August 22, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. awooff

    I also dont want my tax dollars going towards putting plant growers in jail SCHOOLS NEED THE MONEY FIRST!

    August 22, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Azhar

    Weed is not a drug. It's a plant. It just grows there, but if you happen to set it on fire. There are some affects. 🙂

    August 22, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. awooff


    August 22, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • tjp44

      yes, so they can "bail" us out again and rip off the the masses

      August 22, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • keith

      I'd bet all people against pot have a drinking problem or some other monkey. Stop judging a holes.

      August 22, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
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