by David Downs
The huge weed-whacking operation in Mendocino is over, just three weeks after it started.
"Full Court Press" included more than 300 personnel from 25 local, state, and federal agencies, who flew in to cut down marijuana on public lands in six counties while manning roadblocks to catch fleeing ganja farmers. And according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, the operation led to the seizure of 632,058 marijuana plants, 1,986 pounds of processed marijuana, $28,031 in cash, 38 weapons and 20 vehicles — and to 132 arrests.
The office stated in a Monday release:
Of those arrested, 118 persons were booked on various federal and state charges to include marijuana, firearm, and immigration violations, while 14 were foreign nationals detained on administrative immigration violations. They will be processed for removal from the United States.
Additionally, more than 51,404 pounds of trash, 40 miles of irrigation line, 5,459 pounds of fertilizer, and 149 pounds of pesticides were removed from grow sites.
Nearly a third of the illegal grow sites eradicated as part of this operation was on public lands managed by the Department of the Interior. A dozen officers from the Bureau of Land Management and Fish & Wildlife Service were involved daily.
“Growers don’t recognize boundaries,” said Laurel Pistel, Special Agent in Charge for the BLM in California. “I’ve spent 18 years with the BLM in Northern California, and I’ve seen the marijuana industry evolve from small, personal use gardens to large-scale complexes with armed guards on public lands. We were proud to be a partner in this large-scale effort. It’s a win for the environment and the public.”
It is believed many of these grow sites are controlled by drug trafficking organizations. As a result, law enforcement from a variety of agencies dedicated resources to the investigation, eradication, and reclamation to control this illegal activity.
Reclamation efforts will continue as law enforcement strives to remove these materials which will help restore the land to its natural state and will eliminate the infrastructure. This is imperative to deter drug trafficking organizations from re-establishing their operations.