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California Agents Double Marijuana Plant Seizures


420 Staff
California narcotics agents seized more than a million marijuana plants worth more than $4.5 billion during this year's growing season - -- more than double any other year -- according to new figures released by the Department of Justice.

In Santa Clara County, sheriff's deputies working with state narcotics agents confiscated 37,811 plants, worth at least $114 million, ranking Santa Clara ninth among the top ten counties where marijuana gardens were found and destroyed.

An additional 17,000 plants were seized by Santa Clara County deputies working alone, said Sgt. Joe Waldherr, supervisor of the Santa Clara County sheriff's marijuana suppression team. Waldherr put the value of the plants seized in Santa Clara County at $165 million dollars or more.

Shasta County led the state with 214,319 plants seized as part of the state-led Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, a multi-agency task force. Shasta was followed by Lake, Tulare and Fresno counties, where marijuana seizures topped 100,000.

"Our achievements are dampened by the sober reality that armed criminal growers are more willing than ever to use public lands and put outdoor enthusiasts at risk and damage California's environment," Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in a statement.

Michael Johnson, special agent supervisor of the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, said law enforcement agents have become more skilled at spotting marijuana gardens, but at the same time, it appears more gardens are being planted.

Some narcotics agents attribute the increase to a post Sept. 11, 2001, crackdown on border traffic, while others say the legalization of medical marijuana may have made it less risky and cheaper to sell pot grown locally.

"The drug trafficking organizations see the potential for a large profit," Johnson said in an interview.

Johnson said many of the marijuana gardens, and particularly large gardens that are becoming more common -- appear to have been set up by Mexican drug cartels who are increasingly moving marijuana growing operations to California's public land.

Nearly 75 percent of the confiscated pot plants were found on public land, including state and national parks and forests. That's up from about 60 percent last year.

In Santa Clara County, marijuana gardens have been found during the last year in Henry Coe State Park, as well as in Castle Rock State Park and Big Basin State Park in Santa Cruz County.

Waldherr said the most popular places for growing marijuana in the county are in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and near the Gilroy Hot Springs.

Waldherr said if he had additional manpower, his team would likely find more gardens. His team is part of the sheriff's special operations division; currently, there are two deputies assigned to the team full-time for roughly eight months a year. Those positions are funded by a state grant from the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

Often, deputies find marijuana gardens simply by taking a map and imagining where a trafficker might plant. "You obviously can't have two guys hike every ravine in the county," Waldherr said.

The work is also dangerous. A state Fish and Game warden was shot in the legs during an August raid on a marijuana farm near Mount Umunhum.

Statewide, 76 weapons were seized during 237 raids in 31 counties. Forty-two people were arrested.

In Santa Clara County, a total of four weapons were seized, including a rifle, a shotgun and two semi-automatic pistols. Four people were arrested.

Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2005 Knight Ridder
Contact: letters@cctimes.com
Website: http://www.contracostatimes.com/


New Member
And it hasn't put a dent in the availability..

Not a fucking dent.

When are these guys gonna give up and quit wasting my fucking tax dollars!?


New Member
wow what a waste of money that could be spent else were i wish i had over 200 plant here
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