November 30, 2010 (San Diego) – The Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA)'s Narcotics Task Force in San Diego, in partnership with local law enforcement, seized over 378,243 marijuana plants county-wide in 2010. More than half (294,175) were removed from public lands—including U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management properties utilized by hikers, campers, and other members of the public.
The marijuana raids occurred at 165 separate growing locations—including 89 outdoor sites and 76 indoor locations. Investigators seized marijuana assets valued at $700,000 and arrested 118 people in conjunction with the operations, the DEA San Diego Field Divisions Narcotics Task Force (NTF) announced today at a press conference with the San Diego County Sheriff’s office and Health Advocates Rejecting Marijuana (HARM).
The 2010 figures actually represent a decrease from 2009, when 492,221 marijuana plants from 227 locations were seized for a total value of nearly $3.5 million. Arrests this year were up, however, over the 103 individuals taken into custody last year.
Those figures account only for marijuana cultivation, and do not include other marijuana seizures, such as the 20 tons of marijuana seized at a cross-border tunnel discovered last week.
The illegal cultivation causes environmental damage on public lands and also endangers the public when hikers or others using public lands stumble onto the illicit operations. A reliable source informed East County Magazine that one large marijuana field was discovered recently by a hiker who spotted pipes that were diverting water from a stream to a pot farm on federal forest land locally. The hiker declined to speak with media out of fear for his personal safety.
Californians recently voted down an initiative that would have legalized recreational use of marijuana, though medical marijuana usage remains legal. While some have argued that legalization would save the state money , reduce incarcerations and provide a taxable cash crop, authorities have contended that marijuana serves a gateway drug leading to hard drugs by some users and also contributes to highway accidents caused by users under the influence.
“DEA/NTF and all our local, state and federal enforcement partners are dedicated to keeping this dangerous drug off the streets of San Diego,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent Ralph W. Partridge.