SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Monday announced the arrest of 148 individuals as part of the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) Program, the nation’s largest illegal marijuana eradication program. This year, CAMP eradicated 953,459 marijuana plants from 345 raided grow sites across the state. A total of 168 weapons were seized throughout the raids.
“Illegal cannabis grows are devastating our communities. Criminals who disregard life, poison our waters, damage our public lands, and weaponize the illegal cannabis black market will be brought to justice,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “This year, our CAMP teams worked tirelessly across the state to vigorously enforce California’s laws against illegal cannabis activity. The California Department of Justice is extremely proud of our partnership with federal, state, and local agencies and we look forward to continuing this necessary work.”
“Combating illegal marijuana cultivation takes dedication, teamwork, perseverance and courage,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “I’m immensely proud of the work we accomplished during the year with our county, state and federal partners. Together, we are protecting California’s natural resources and providing another measure of public safety.”
“USDA Forest Service law enforcement in California commend the collaboration and continuing efforts of our task force of partners in the yearly fight against illegal marijuana grows on public lands. This multi-faceted team approach is how we stay successful in mitigating these trespassers and the harmful destruction they intend on our land, water, wildlife and communities,” said Don Hoang, Special Agent in Charge of United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region.
“CAMP’s joint law enforcement efforts provide an opportunity for a stronger state-federal partnership against the illegal cultivation of marijuana. Together, we share a common goal – to improve public safety and protect our nation’s important natural and cultural resources on public lands,” said Joe Stout, Acting California State Director, Bureau of Land Management.
“We are proud to partner with our local, state, and federal partners in the CAMP program, which not only helps disrupt illegal activity, but assists in safeguarding natural resources and the environment,” said William D. Bodner, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration. “CAMP provides rotary wing assets and personnel to assist DEA in the eradication of illegal marijuana grows on federal lands.”
“Although cannabis has been legalized for use in California, there is still a large unlicensed black market,” said Robert Paoletti, Coordinator Colonel, California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force. “Our participation works to prevent this illegal market in order to promote a fair market place for those growers, producers, and vendors who choose to operate within the system that the voters approved.”
The CAMP operations were led by the California Department of Justice and included local, state, and federal agencies. Agents were divided into three teams that encompass the Northern, Central and Southern California regions, with teams covering 35 counties in the state.
Throughout the course of this year’s operations, CAMP teams protected public resources against misuse and safeguarded public land and water from illegal pesticides. This year, agents assisted in serving over 120 search warrants in the growing black market of illegal cannabis cultivation on public lands. The sites, loaded with trash, banned pesticides such as carbofuran, methyl parathion, aluminum phosphate, and illegal fertilizers, discharge large quantities of these harmful products into the waterways of California. Agents shut down these illegal grow sites, shielded the public from harmful chemicals, and disrupted dangerous criminal activity.
The 2019 CAMP operations count on multi-agency collaboration between the California Department of Justice, the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Forest Service, the United States Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration, the California National Guard, the California Bureau of Land Management, and the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, and other local law enforcement departments.