Friday, August 24, 2012

Marijuana grow found near Galena Summit

Plants being eradicated as part of ‘Operation Mountain Sweep’


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

    Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced Thursday that an illegal marijuana-growing operation involving more than 11,000 plants has been discovered near Galena Summit in Blaine County and is now being eradicated as part of a multi-agency effort involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
    “No arrests have been made and the investigation is growing,” Olson said.
    The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, began eradication of the illegal plants on Thursday.
    Olson said the growing operation was discovered by members of the public who reported it to police authorities.
    The announcement was made at a press conference in Boise. The Idaho Mountain Express participated via telephone hookup.


“Public lands suffer the effects
of illegal
marijuana grows
long after the plants
are gone.”
Wendy Olson
Idaho U.S. attorney


    Olson said illegal marijuana grows in Idaho and six other Western states are being actively searched for and destroyed as part of Operation Mountain Sweep, a massive operation involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Land
Management, the U.S. Forest Service and various state and local law enforcement agencies.
    She said that in a two-month period, Operation Mountain Sweep has eradicated 578,000 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $1 billion. She said more than 47,000 plants have been found and destroyed thus far in Idaho, the majority of them in Caribou County in the southeastern part of the state.
    Olson said discovery and eradication of illegal marijuana grows is now a national priority.
    “Public lands suffer the effects of illegal marijuana grows long after the plants are gone,” she said.
    Olson said marijuana growers on public lands destroy vegetation and use large amounts of fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides that have a lasting detrimental effect on “land, wildlife and waterways.”
    Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey participated in the press conference via telephone from the grow site.
    In the Blaine County case, he said 11,100 plants were discovered in five growing plots involving a total of about five acres in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. He estimated that if mature, the plants would have had a street value of more than $27 million.


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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