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Marijuana Crops Seized Since 2007 Worth $3 Billion, Local Feds Say

Some 500 farms included some near Palomar Mountain and in the Cleveland National Forest.

Drug agents found more than 500 marijuana farms in San Diego County forests and parks since 2007 along with banned pesticides, poisons and discarded equipment used during the grows, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Tuesday.

Agents in San Diego County seized 1.5 million marijuana plants worth an estimated $3 billion over the past five years. The illicit farms were in areas that included near Palomar Mountain, in Cleveland National Forest, between avocado groves and within walking distance from California State University San Marcos, Duffy said.

The marijuana grows were responsible for the destruction of natural vegetation, Duffy said.

Authorities found makeshift kitchens, sleeping areas and bathrooms. Shotgun shells, discarded irrigation lines and containers from fertilizers, pesticides and poisons smuggled from Mexico that could contaminate the local water supply were also recovered, Duffy said.

Agents found discarded car and motorcycle engines used to charge cell phones during the five-month growing season that ends in October, officials
said.

“Despite individual convictions about marijuana use, as a community we need to consider the damage that mass cultivation inflicts on our precious natural resources,” Duffy said.

“Most people likely have no idea how much marijuana is grown on public lands or that these grows are being operated at the expense of our pristine forests and parks.”

During this year's growing season, the statewide Cannabis Eradication and Reclamation Team cleaned up two grow sites, including the operation near the Cal State San Marcos campus.

The most recent bust in San Diego County was in July when 41,000 plants valued at $82 million were seized in the Warner Springs area. The largest recent farm located was in a remote area of the Cuyamaca Mountains where 80,000 plants worth an estimated $160 million were seized.

Since July 1, authorities in California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington eradicated about 578,000 plants worth about $1.156 billion from public lands as part of a multi-agency operation called Operation Mountain Sweep.

About 483,000 were found in California. The grow sites were not in San Diego County, although officials said local investigations were ongoing.

—City News Service

Libi Uremovic August 29, 2012 at 04:29 PM
"...Anyone could obviously get a card...upon scoring and walked around the corner and sold the high grade stuff for a profit. ...' the prices are higher in the stores than on the streets...no one is paying top price then re-selling it for less money.... ...and why would anyone buy from the scum of the earth when they can just get a card and buy from the store themselves? i'm all for legitimate conversation about weed, but all i ever hear from the opposition is lies, fear mongering, and the accusation that weed farmers, doctors, retailers, and tax paying consumers are an undesirable demographic of society.
Kevin George August 29, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Because they're not 18? Just a theory.
Libi Uremovic August 29, 2012 at 05:42 PM
"...Because they're not 18? ...'' that theory would apply to booze and tobacco because they're not accessible on the streets, but weed is cheaper on the streets... it's just like any other business....exchange weed for shoes....it's going to be more expensive to buy a pair of nikies in a prime mall location than it would be to buy them in a flea market.....or from a guy on the side of the road... no one is buying shoes retail from stores in la jolla and selling them on the streets of el cajon... to adults or kids...
Kevin George August 29, 2012 at 06:33 PM
libi, I am all for legalization. Exchange weed for shoes? Shoes aren't illegal. Sorry about floating a theory I apologize.
Steven Bartholow August 29, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Reselling from dispensaries is very rare I would say. I have covered the Medical MJ issue in San Diego for a long time and the prices at the shops are generally very high compared to the street. They tend to sell retail prices even if you're buying in bulk. So, say an ounce on the street you could get for $200, goodluck finding one in a dispensary for $300. The concept that drug dealers are buying from dispensaries and reselling is overhyped. Now, the idea that sketchy dispensaries might sell from the backdoor in bulk is another thing. But, that's why I am all for tighter regulation of the dispensaries. Problem is, the sketchy outlets rally for less regulation and do things like pass around petitions to get rid of SD's regulations, which forced them all to close for a while... and so the insanity of this issue continues for those poor souls stuck in the middle that really could use the medicinal help of cannabis.

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