Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jul 2011
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Rob Parsons, Tri-County Newspapers


Massive police raids targeting marijuana cultivation in the Mendocino
National Forest continue nearly round-the-clock and arrest numbers are

A total of 88 arrests have been made in the nearly two-week-old
operation with more than 374,000 plants eradicated and 27 firearms -
including many automatic weapons - have been seized, authorities
reported Wednesday.

Law enforcement officials are still refusing discuss specifics about
the large operation, saying all information would be released at a
press conference Friday.

Approximately $1.25 million in marijuana was destroyed Wednesday in
Tehama County's mountains alone, said John C. Heil, a spokesman for
the U.S. Forest Service.

The ongoing raids have targeted illegal farming operations in the
heavily wooded mountainous areas in Colusa, Tehama, Mendocino, Lake
and Trinity counties.

The operation is one of the largest eradication efforts in state
history, in terms of geography and the number of agents used in the
field, according to Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the state
justice department.

"Yes, we are getting about the same number of plants in each area, but
in terms of time and size and scope, this is one of the biggest,"
Gregory said.

Officials said the suspected growers fled the area, taking their
weapons with them.

Wednesday's raid just west of Pasketa in Tehama County was considered
about average in size, authorities said, but was notable because for
the first time since the operation kicked off local media was granted
limited access to the site.

The campsite was raided about 15 minutes before reporters were given a
tour of the sprawling campsite, which included three large separate
grow sites on the east side of the mountain range.

Heil described the campsite as typical and said approximately three to
five workers had been living and working there for at least two full
growing seasons before the early morning raid.

"Some are more spartan, some more elaborate it just depends on a lot
of factors such as how long (the site) has been used," Heil said.

The point, Heil said, is to reclaim public lands for the public and to
mitigate the massive environmental damage left behind these type of
cultivation efforts, many of which are believed to be connected to
organized drug cartel in Mexico. 
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