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Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that the 2002 Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Seized Record 354,164 Plants Worth $1.4 Billion
(FRESNO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that the 2002 California Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) seized a record 354,164 illegal marijuana plants worth more than $1.4 billion.
"This record-breaking season highlights our resolve to rid the state of large criminal drug operations that use public and private lands to illegally cultivate millions of illegal marijuana plants," Lockyer said. "Thanks to the cooperation of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, CAMP is ensuring the disruption of large criminal enterprises, stopping drugs from being distributed on our streets and keeping our public forests and national parks safe for hikers, outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists to enjoy."
Lockyer made the announcement in Fresno with representatives from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, to recognize that large illegal marijuana operations are a problem throughout the state.
The nationally-recognized program uses an intense, collaborative approach bringing together state, federal, and local law enforcement agencies under the direction of the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. Every year since 1983, CAMP teams have located, seized, and eradicated large outdoor marijuana operations in remote areas of California.
Since the program began in 1983, more than three million marijuana plants with an estimated wholesale value of $10.5 billion have been seized. Almost 1.3 million of those plants, or 41 percent, were seized in just the last four years.
During the 2002 CAMP season, law enforcement officers from more than 70 agencies conducted 181 raids in 23 counties during the growing season, which runs from late July through early October. Officers seized 354,164 marijuana plants worth more than $1.4 billion, made 26 arrests and seized 38 weapons. The average raid this year resulted in the seizure of slightly less than 2,000 plants. Eight of the raids this season were on gardens containing more than 10,000 plants.
CAMP seizures in 2002 continued a recent trend in which large illegal marijuana operations are found in the remote forested areas throughout the state. More than half, or 56 percent, of all plants seized were found on public lands. About 40 percent of the plants were seized in the traditional "Emerald Triangle" of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties, as well as other Northern California counties. About 30 percent of the marijuana was seized in the Central Valley and the other 30 percent came from the Bay Area and Central Coast regions.
"We continue to find large operations in remote areas in state and national forests or other land available to the public," Lockyer said. "This presents a dangerous situation for hikers, campers and law enforcement, especially park rangers. Those hired to tend the large gardens are usually immigrant recruits living for weeks in modest campsites, often armed and under orders to defend their illegal crop, even when approached by peace officers."
DOJ investigations indicate that about 75 percent of the plants seized by CAMP during 2002 were from gardens operated by individuals with ties to Mexican drug cartels that often are also involved in the production and distribution of methamphetamine and other narcotics.
Lockyer credited much of the program´s success to the ongoing cooperation of and assistance from dozens of federal, state and local agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the California Highway Patrol, which provides CHP officers and vehicles to support CAMP operations.
A summary of CAMP seizures in 2002 and a statistical history of the program is attached.