Thursday, August 23, 2012

Law Enforcement Discover More than $100 Million in Marijuana in Idaho Forests

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Marijuana growers targeted public lands for growing operations.

Officials announced a major drug bust that resulted in the eradication of more than $100 million worth of marijuana plants in Idaho, according to federal law enforcement. The operations were raided on public lands in Caribou County last month, and in Blaine County this morning.

"Earlier today, federal, county and local law enforcement began taking down a significant marijuana growing operation near Galena Summit in the Sawtooth National Forest," said U.S. District Attorney Wendy Olson.

Olson then introduced law enforcement representatives from both counties, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, representing a team comprised of 60 law enforcement officials in the eight-week investigation.

"The operation was comprised of five separate growing plots for a total of five acres," said Blaine County Chief Deputy Sheriff Gene Ramsay in a conference call.

Law enforcement officials said illegal growing operations damaged public lands with fertilizers.

Approximately 11,100 marijuana plants were seized in the Galena Summit effort, valued at approximately $27 million. Olson said the growing operation appeared to have been in use on public land for more than one season. The Caribou County bust eradicated more than 40,000 plants, she said.

The plots were found by a pair of hikers. No arrests have been made at this time, said Olson, though she said they are working toward finding those responsible.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Haws said marijuana growers using public land to grow marijuana destroy vegetation and contaminate water sources. Olson estimated costs to repair land used for illegal marijuana growing are between $14,000 and $17,000 per acre.

"Pristine public land is being scarred and cannot be recovered without human intervention," said Olson.

Haws also said none of these growing operations on public lands were without illegal weapons.

"Operation Mountain Sweep" targets growing operations on public lands in seven states, including California, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Utah and Idaho.

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