Federal law enforcement spent eight weeks cracking down on large-scale marijuana growers in a multi-agency and multistate operation, the Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced.
Operation Mountain Sweep, which began July 1 and ended the last week of August, targeted large-scale marijuana growers on public lands in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The operation led to the eradication of more than 578,000 marijuana plants with a total value of more than $1 billion.
“Marijuana trafficking organizations seek to turn our nation’s parks and public lands into their own drug havens,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. “Operation Mountain Sweep is a concerted effort to reclaim these wild and beautiful areas and protect them from further destruction and exploitation. Thanks to the ongoing commitment of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute marijuana traffickers wherever they operate and hide.”
In California alone, law enforcement officers destroyed more than 484,000 marijuana plants from 96 different marijuana grow sites. Officers also removed large amounts of trash, fertilizer and pesticides.
“Those who cultivate marijuana on public lands pose a safety threat to the public and an environmental threat to the land,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said. “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. As a result, law enforcement from a variety of agencies dedicated resources to the investigation, eradication and reclamation to control this illegal activity.”
Operation Mountain Sweep was led by federal agents from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, DEA and the Department of Homeland Security.