Northern California Pot Wars: 632,058 Marijuana Plants Seized


Photo: California Department of Justice
Local, state and federal personnel were involved in the three-week Operation Full Court Press, which wasted taxpayer money across six Northern California counties.

​Operation Full Court Press, an incredibly expensive, mind-numbingly futile, and ultimately quixotic multi-agency anti-marijuana operation in Northern California, has wound up its three weeks of fun this year, claiming the seizure of 632,058 marijuana plants.

The operation, which covered Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Tehama and Trinity counties, targeted large-scale illegal marijuana grows in and around the Mendocino National Forest. It involved more than 300 personnel from 25 local, state and federal agencies, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The conclusion of this phase of Full Court Press, in addition to the plants, resulted in the seizure of 1,986 pounds of processed marijuana; $28,031 in U.S. currency; 38 weapons and 20 vehicles.
Arrested were 132 individuals, 118 of whom were booked on various federal and state charges including marijuana, firearm, and immigration violations. Fourteen of those arrested were foreign nationals and were detained on administrative immigration violations. They will be processed for removal from the United States.

Department of Justice spokesperson Michelle Gregory did not have a list of those arrested, saying they were booked at different locations throughout the operation, reports Elizabeth Larson of Lake County News.

Photo: California Department of Justice
A helicopter hovers over allegedly illegal marijuana gardens during Operation Full Court Press.

​Gregory said she “couldn’t state” how many of the cases could result in prosecutions, as those decisions will depend on the outcome of the investigations and the decisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the local district attorneys involved.
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, according to the Forest Service.
Almost one-third of the grow sites raided as part of this operation were on public lands managed by the Department of the Interior. A dozen officers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the 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,” Pistel said. “It’s a win for the environment and the public.”
“It is believed many of these grow sites are controlled by drug trafficking organizations,” according to the Forest Service’s press release. “As a result, law enforcement from a variety of agencies dedicated resources to the investigation, eradication, and reclamation to control this illegal activity.”

Photo: California Department of Justice
Operation Full Court Press seized about 632,000 marijuana plants on public and private lands in Northern California during a three-week period in July and August 2011.

Photo: California Department of Justice
About 1,986 pounds of processed marijuana were seized during the three-week Operation Full Court Press.

Photo: The Chronic-le
It’s a strange annual ritual of futility, a mindless oath of fealty to the Drug War