It’s gotten so bad that you can’t go hunting, fishing, or hiking in peace in certain parts of Northern California anymore – all because of marijuana growers with guns.
On Friday the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California announced that law enforcement officials had raided pot-growing farms in the Mendocino National Forest during a 2-week operation that will be ongoing. Every summer law enforcement launches this effort on public lands. At least half a dozen federal agencies took part this year, along with the state anti-narcotics bureau and 6 sheriff’s departments.
This year’s bust, described as “huge,” is supposedly a major blow against illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands in Northern California.
Agents uprooted over 460,000 pot plants. They also seized about 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana, almost 30 guns, and 11 vehicles. There have been over 100 arrests.
According to the Associated Press:
The 900,000-acre forest – larger than Rhode Island – spans six counties in a region of mountains and forests known as the Emerald Triangle for its high concentration of pot farms. Agents raided more than 50 gardens teeming with trash, irrigation pipes, and chemicals that damage forestland and waterways, authorities said.
Pot growers favor public lands for their remote location and rugged terrain, people say. This year’s focus was on the Mendocino National Forest after nearby residents started complaining last year about the increasing number of confrontations with armed guards protecting pot grows.
Moreover, Forest Service officials have complained about the environmental consequences of illegal pot farms.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag says that the California National Guard, Forest Service workers, and volunteers removed 46,000 pounds of trash, 120 propane tanks, 116,000 feet of pipe, 13 man-made dams, 57 pounds of pesticides, and tons of fertilizer from raided grow sites.
Usually Mexican drug cartels are blamed for some of this activity. The U.S. Attorney says that 25 of the people arrested are already facing federal charges, but she wouldn’t say where they’re from.