52 arrested in statewide crackdown on illegal pot growers

SAN DIEGO — State Attorney General Xavier Becerra Thursday announced the arrest of 52 people as part of an enforcement effort billed as the nation’s largest mobilization to eradicate illegal marijuana cultivation.

The three-month California Campaign Against Marijuana Planting operation resulted in the seizure of 614,267 cannabis plants and 110 weapons at more than 250 illegal grow sites, according to state officials.

The recently concluded crackdown on illegal indoor and outdoor marijuana cultivation and pot trafficking “put an exclamation point behind California’s multi-agency illegal-cannabis campaign, holding accountable individuals who damage our public lands and hurt our communities,” Becerra said.

“At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to work with our partners at the federal, state and local levels through our CAMP program to vigorously enforce California’s laws against illegal cannabis activity,” he said.

During the 12-week operation, four groups of investigators targeted illicit marijuana cultivation and distribution in the following counties: Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kern, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, San Joaquin, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Ventura, Yolo and Yuba.

Among the accomplishments of the CAMP teams was protection of public resources against misuse and safeguarded public land and water from illegal pesticides, according to the attorney general’s office.

In Stanislaus County, the personnel stopped drug traffickers from diverting water from the San Joaquin River, officials said. In other cases, authorities halted the use of a banned pesticide called carbofuran, shielding public lands from the toxic chemical.

Taking part in the operation along with various local law enforcement agencies were the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program; the state Bureau of Land Management, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Justice and National Guard; and the federal Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, Drug Enforcement Administration, Forest Service and National Park Service.