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Officers Clear Pair Of Park Pot Gardens


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Park rangers dug deep Tuesday to remove more than 1,000 marijuana plants from inside Sequoia National Park as law enforcement received federal funds to combat drugs in the Valley.

While rangers removed plants from the parks, Tulare County Sheriff's Department deputies and personnel from the California Department of Justice's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting could be found pulling marijuana plants from nearby grow sites on Bureau of Land Management lands. Both grow sites were found in the canyon of the South Fork and Kaweah River. Tuesday's operation involved a total of 40 law enforcement officers and two helicopters. Park officials said this was the first eradication action for the parks this year, but more are expected through the fall months.

"To protect park resources and public safety, rangers will continue to look for and eradicate other grow sites over the next few months during harvest season," stated a Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks news release.
Last year, Sequoia and Kings Canyon removed more than 44,000 marijuana plants from the parks. An estimated 100,000 plants have been removed since 2002. To collect the most of this year's illegal harvest, the multiple-agency Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area unit will receive an additional $550,000 this year. The federal law enforcement coalition, HIDTA, includes officers from Tulare, Fresno, Kern, Kings and San Joaquin counties.

The funds were made available through the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "HIDTA is our front-line defense against organized drug trafficking in the Central Valley," said Rep. Devin Nunes, who made the announcement on Tuesday. During 2004, the Central Valley HIDTA conducted about 864 investigations, 314 more than in 2003. Last year, HIDTA officers also seized 192,000 marijuana plants and made in excess of 1,100 drug-related arrests.
Central Valley HIDTA received $2.2 million in federal funding earlier this year.

Newshawk: SirBlazinBowl - 420Times.com
Source: Porterville Recorder (CA)
Copyright: 2005 The Porterville Recorder
Contact: gfaison@portervillerecorder.com
Website: http://www.portervillerecorder.com/
Author: Sarah Elizabeth Villicana
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