U.S. Attorneys from seven states have announced the final figures of Operation Mountain Sweep, which targeted illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands.
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The operation, which spanned eight weeks starting July 1, involved multiple agencies spanning Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington, a press release stated. More than 726,000 marijuana plants were eradicated from public lands across the states, worth, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, more than $1.45 billion. The total seizure count was nearly 1,082,000 plants.
In California, more than 130 marijuana grow sites were eradicated over dozens of counties. More than 540,000 plants were seized. The plants on public lands represent about 65 percent of of all marijuana seized in California since July 1. Huge amounts of trash, miles of irrigation line and a large amount of fertilizer and pesticide was also removed from the sites. The plants from California represent a little more than 77 percent of all plants seized during the operation.
The operation also saw 26 defendants indicted in the Eastern District of California on allegations of illegally growing marijuana on public land. Over the course of the arrests, 14 firearms were seized.
The operation was supported by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which provided funding, intelligence management and operation coordination.
Operation Mountain Sweep was carried out in California by federal agents from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the DEA, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and state and local law enforcement, including the state Department of Justice, and Sheriff’s deputies from multiple counties. The California National Guard also provided critical operations support, planning and logistics, as well as providing helicopters.