The task force found and destroyed more than five-point-two million marijuana plants this year. Roughly 70 percent of those were on public lands – places like Sequoia National Park near Fresno.
“Anybody that thinks this is just some hippies in a Volkswagon growing some pot in the woods, you’ve got a huge learning curve ahead of you.”
Ron Pugh is with the U.S. Forest Service. He says the drug operations are the work of Mexican cartels that are heavily armed. He says authorities found pot in 400 different public areas:
“That’s 400 places where if you or your family or your whatever friends wandered into you truly are in danger. It’s not a myth, there’s no hype here.”
U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott says the drug operations are also dangerous to the environment:
“The environmental damage in the form of stream diversion, illegal banned pesticides, clear-cutting and all kinds of chemicals that are being pulled out of these national forests, national parks and BLM land is mind-boggling.”
The most plants were found in Lake County – nearly 500-thousand. Also near the top of the list: Tulare, Shasta, Mendocino and Humboldt counties. According to the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, more than half of the domestically produced marijuana in the U.S. is grown in California.