RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — More than 1.1 million marijuana plants at 455 grow sites up and down California have been eradicated under a campaign that state officials say is the nation’s largest illegal marijuana eradication program.
Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Kern counties were among the 29 counties targeted by the state Justice Department’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP. A total of 140 people were arrested and 174 weapons seized during the 13-week season, according to Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office.
“There’s no question that illegal cultivation significantly harms the environment, puts public safety at risk and has no place in California’s regulated market,” David Bess, deputy director and chief of the state’s Fish and Wildlife’s law enforcement division, said in a statement.
The illegal grow sites targeted by state and local officials were not simple backyard plantings. In Riverside County, one grow site was an elaborate farm operation easily spotted from law enforcement helicopters.
State officials say the illegal grow sites are often loaded with trash and banned pesticides that are discharged into California’s waterways. Illegal growers can also disrupt the flow of nearby streams and rivers to create irrigation systems, endangering nearby fish, wildlife and plants, according to Becerra’s office.